Auntie Ann Knits

Monday, November 27, 2006

Gee, Thanks, Liz!

Liz of Everwhelming Liz has tagged me with the Four Things thing. Gah! Well, at present I have no knitting to show except my other brother's too-large sock that I need to rip to before the heel, so here goes:

A) Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. Grocery store checker/tagger/bagger
2. Girl Scout camp counselor
3. Re-shelver of law library books
4. Real estate attorney

B) Four movies I would watch over and over:
1. It's a Wonderful Life
2. Singin' in the Rain
3. Top Hat
4. Spirited Away

C) Four places I have lived:
1. Columbia, Missouri
2. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
3. St. Louis, Missouri
4. Marin County, California

D) Four TV shows I love to watch (as if I have the time):
1. Jeopardy
2. The Closer
3. Prime Suspect
4. Rumpole of the Bailey

E) I have been on vacation:
1. Paris/Provence
2. London/Edinburgh
3. Utah
4. Arizona

F) Websites visited daily:
1. Bloglines
2. Email
4. personal news page

G) Four of my favorite foods:
1. Dark chocolate with almonds
2. Turkey and cranberry sauce sandwiches
3. Grilled eggplant
4. Potstickers
Note -- Tofurkey is not on this list.

H) Four places I would rather be right now:
1. In my easy chair, knitting and listening to my current book club book on CD, Madame Bovary
2. Wisconsin Dells with my HS friends
3. Knit Night
4. In the hot tub we're going to have delivered soon (must figure out how to knit in the hot tub, don't you think?)

I) Four people I’m tagging with this questionnaire:
1. AngelaRae
2. Deepa
3. Maia
4. Paper Tiger

Hopefully I can rip that sock heel and re-knit it tonight. The Xmas Countdown is down to four items, and three of them are partly done.

Friday, November 24, 2006

An Unidentified Finished Object

Doesn't this look like the dog's breakfast?

I think it looks better in person, and hopefully the recipient will, too.

I tried to take a close-up of the stitch pattern:
Moebius pattern

Crummy light today, but I am hoping to wrap this and get it in the mail soon, since it has to go to Vermont for Xmas.

It is a Moebius scarf (couldn't you tell?!) for my uncle's girlfriend. That is such an inadequate term when he's in his 80's and she's been with him over 20 years, but -- well, I'm open to suggestions.

I've been making socks so much lately that I was astonished at how quickly this knit up. That's what bulky yarn will do for you.

Knitty gritty:
Yarn: bulky Bouton d'Or Otello, color "Calypso", 50 gr./50 yds., 50% wool, 50% mohair
Needles: size 11 Denise
CO: 192 stitches. (In theory, anyway -- somehow it came out too few, and I fudged it)
Pattern: basic stitch pattern adapted from Cat Bordhi's Cashmere Cowl: *Yo, k6, k2tog, yo, p6, p2tog. Repeat from * to end of round. Next round, K the K's and P the P's. Lather, rinse, repeat. Cat's pattern would have you knit only, no purls. This comes out with stockinette on one side of the center spine and reverse stockinette on the other. Mine alternates the stitch patterns for more variety. I think it came out OK. I ended with 2 garter stitch rows and a standard bind-off.

This was an extremely fast knit, which helped me knock one more item from my Xmas knitting to-do list.

Next up: socks for my half-brother.

Return of the Tofurkey!!

We had a nice family Thanksgiving. I (with DD in the role of sous-chef) made cranberry sauce (with a bit of candied ginger -- very nice), brined turkey, stuffing, bread and mashed potatoes. DH, as usual, made the gravy and wielded the carving knife. My mother, my brother S., and his husband J. brought pies (2 kinds of pumpkin and 1 pecan pie), a green bean dish and sweet potatoes with chopped walnuts and -- chocolate. Much as I like chocolate, that last was just not to my liking.

My brother B. brought a kale dish, a bulghur/cranberry/nut dish, and -- a Tofurkey.

This is not the first time he brought Tofurkey. I have tried Tofurkey. Tofurkey is terrible.

Now, remember that I live in California. I am no stranger to vegan dishes. I like tofu and I like veggie burgers.

What I do not like is cardboard flavored heavily with poultry seasoning, and I am convinced that that is what Tofurkey is made of.

And here is one thing I was especially thankful for this Thanksgiving -- B. neglected to thaw the Tofurkey.

Sometimes two wrongs really do make a right.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Log Cabin Baby Blanket -- done at last!!

Some of you with very long memories will remember that I began a log cabin baby blanket months and months ago, as a baby present for a baby due in December. Piece of cake! Loads of time! Right? WRONG!

My addiction to sock knitting and my overly ambitious Xmas knit list got in the way, so that I finally began to put the blanket together with only about a week to go before the shower, which was last Sunday (and BTW, the baby didn't exactly help either, he insisted on being born 7 weeks early. Thankfully, he's fine).

Anyway, my initial plan was to make it 3 squares by 4. Twelve is a nice number. It worked for Cara, right? But when I started to piece them together, I quickly realized that 16 is a much, MUCH nicer number than 12. Twelve, for this size square, was much too small. See?
not enuf squares

OK, I realize there's nothing in there to give you a good sense of the scale, but just trust me on this.

This led to desperate measures. The mission: Produce 4 more squares, seam all squares and attach backing -- in less than a week. DD had knit most of the centers, but currently has a very busy schedule with band, jazz band, and the school play. However, she had last Friday off from school and with the help of some bribery I got her to produce another center.

Desperate times called for desparate measures, including this:
amazing short rows
This center was an experiment, I never thought I'd actually press it into service. DD started it and I finished it, and let's just say that our guages are not the same. At all. And I can't tell if my random garter-stitch portion helped or hurt. So there are short-rows in each of the edge strips to help turn a trapezoid into a square. I'm actually rather pleased that I managed to make this one work. I don't think it really looks like the act of desperation that it was.

And this one:

Can you see the stripes? Design feature, or act of desperation when running out of yarn? You be the judge. Also, more with the short rowing. Did I mention that through a stupid mistake that I made at the LYS, the center squares and the edge strips are not even the same weight of yarn? Not even the same fiber? Doh! It made picking up the right number of stitches a challenge, let me tell you.

The method I used to join the squares is something of my own unvention: With crochet hook, make a single slip stitch in one BO stitch of one square, then in one BO stitch of the adjoining square, alternating until all are joined. Remember how the wonky square with all the short rows is in a corner of the blanket? It's not quite the same size as its neighbors. In fact, the edges of the squares all vary in length somewhat. The worst offenders were bad children and were made to go sit in the corners. Here's a close-up of one of the joins:

Ta da! Here is DD holding up the finished blanket:
M and blanket

Somewhere in the bowels of DH's camera there is a pic of me holding it, but DD is better looking anyway.

And the back:
(DD wearing her "Mom, sometimes you are such a dork" look.)

And best of all:
New mom and blanket

The new mom with the blanket. She was quite thrilled. The baby couldn't attend the shower, he is still too little to be exposed to all of us germ-laden people, but there were some fabulous pix of him with his mom and dad. Made me want to run home and knit up some booties. Or maybe not.

The gory details:
Finished size: Approx. 36" x 36".
Yarn: edge strips are Cascade 220 washable, centers are mystery bulky acrylic yarn.
The whole thing is machine washable and dryable. Center squares are approx. 6" to a side, each edge strip was intended to be about 1-1/2" wide, usually this was 7 garter stitch ridges. It was easy to make more or fewer rows if necessary to make the strip the right size.
Needles: US 10 for centers, US 7 for edge strips.
Backing: cotton flannel in "Blue's Clues" print. I wanted a blue flannel print, and this fit the bill. It is attached by tying yarn through both top and bottom at each intersection where four squares meet, with the knots and ends sandwiched between the layers (hopefully this will keep those bits of yarn from becoming a choking hazard). This was done first, to facilitate the knot-tying, and then I turned the edges of the flannel under and machine-stitched around the edges.

Making this was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot about how to fake certain things to make this work. I liked my seaming method. If I had had more time (we finished it 2 hours before the shower) I might have thought to machine stitch through the blanket where the crochet joins are, to add even more stability to the backing. But I think it'll be OK as it is. (I included an "unlimited lifetime guarantee" with the gift.) I would definitely make another log cabin blanket sometime, but maybe I'd try to use only one weight of yarn, huh?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Widdershins Heel, x2

I finished my 2nd Widdershins-type heel on my brother's 2nd sock. Woo-hoo! No pix, though -- luckily, it looks just like the other one!

I want to write up how I did it, mostly for my own reference, since I suffer from the dreaded disease CRS (can't remember shit) but possibly this will help someone else doing this type of heel construction over a 72-stitch sock.

Brooke, the designer of this lovely sock, was very gracious in trying to help further illuminate her formula. However, I have to admit that I did not struggle with the formula any more, having already worked out a set of numbers that seemed to work for me, using simple arithmetic and staring at her sock pattern a lot.

It goes like this (I am not intending to write a full pattern here, just notes on the heel construction -- beware, a certain amount of fudging is involved):

Gusset increases: starting about 2-1/2 inches before desired length (at 7" for me, since I want a 9-1/2" sock for my brother), start doing paired gusset increases every other row, 1 stitch in from the divide between the heel and instep stitches, until you have increased 13 stitches on each side, for 62 heel stitches.

Heel turn: the idea is to take the 27 center heel stitches and increase them to 37 stitches, using short rows. I have 62 heel stitches. An odd number might be better to perfectly center that heel turn, but 1 stitch off, at 9 st./in.? I can't be bothered. I used stitch markers to mark off the 27 center stitches, and the approximate center of the heel. (Openable stitch markers were very useful to me here, due to my many mis-steps.) Knit across to 2 stitches from the left side of the heel turn stitches, M1, K1, w&t. Purl across to 2 stitches from the right side of the heel turn stitches, M1, P1, w&t. Knit across to 3 stitches from the last wrapped stitch -- the idea is to wrap the 1st stitch, 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th stitches from each side. At each side, K1 or P1, M1, w&t. This takes 10 rows, and you should have 37 stitches.

Work 1 round over all stitches (99 -- 36 instep, 37 heel, 26 gusset stitches), ending at center heel. As Brooke said, "When you encounter a wrapped stitch, pick up the wrap and place it on your left needle, then knit it together with the stitch which it had wrapped."

Heel flap: Now we are going to knit the heel flap back and forth between the gusset stitches. Start your heel stitch or eye-of-partridge stitch here if you want. At each edge of the flap, a decrease (either p2tog or SSK) (actually, I use slip 1, K1, PSSO, but it takes too much longer to type) joins flap to gusset and decreases away the gusset stitches.

Knit to 2 stitches before your marker indicating the left edge of the heel turn stitches, and SSK. Turn without wrapping. Purl across to the other edge, and 2 before the marker on that edge, P2tog, turn without wrapping. Repeat (you'll have to remove the markers), but each subsequent decrease is done across, and closes up, the gap left by the turn on the previous row. When I've decreased all my gusset stitches away, I have 34 heel stitches. Re-commence knitting in the round, but pick up an extra stitch on each side of the heel stitches.

And there you are! What could be easier? Someday I'll figure out the whys and wherefores of heel construction, but meantime I'm blindly groping through some of these different types of heels.

In other knit news -- I had a great time at Eweforia on Friday night, and will post pix on that blog when I get a chance. We have to hustle to finish up the baby log cabin blanket that DD and I are making, the baby's shower is Sunday! 10 out of 12 blocks are completed, DD has finished the center of the 11th block, and I have started doing the joining. I'm doing it in a manner of my own unvention -- using a crochet hook, make a single stitch first in the bind-off row of one square, and then in the other square, continuing alternating between the two until you get to the end. I think the backing will be done by tying it at the intersections of the squares like a tied quilt, starting in the middle, to allow me to hide the knots between the layers, working my way out, and then stitching all around the edge, somehow. Is that vague enough for you? I don't think the baby will make an appearance at the shower, he is still in the hospital after arriving 7 weeks before his due date (which is still a month off). However, he is nursing, gaining weight, and otherwise making good progress.

After the baby quilt, it will be time to start the Xmas project that must be shipped to Vermont! It's going to be a close thing as to whether I make my Xmas list goals that I've set for myself. Dad might have to sacrifice himself and wait for his hat, since I already knit him a scarf, so that others who have not received any hand-knits yet may get some this Xmas. How noble of him! If only he knew the noble sacrifice that he might be making.