Auntie Ann Knits

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A trip to the bead store

I went to the bead store yesterday. A trip to the bead store (or JoAnn's, or Michael's) invariably results in new beads or other materials for stitch markers. Do I need new stitch markers? I do not.

row counter 6-row version 2

This, however, is much more than a stitch marker. It is an adjustable pattern row counter, seen here in the 6-row pattern repeat version. I started using it last night, and I love it.

In my first attempt at stitch markers, I made a two-row pattern row counter. Yes, I do sometimes have trouble counting to two rows, why? C'mon, most of my knitting is done while multi-tasking in some way -- listening to an audiobook or podcast, watching TV, watching soccer, etc. Isn't yours?

I've been using the two-row counter for toes of socks and such, and I actually find it very helpful. It wasn't helping me, though, with my Sonnet sleeve, which needs increases every 6 rows. I was ending up with somewhat random increases, and hoping they would average out properly. Well, that's no way to run a railroad, as the saying goes.

Enter the 6-row counter. As before, the idea is that on every round I move my needle down into the next loop closer to the bead, until I got to the loop closest to the bead. When the marker came around again, I knew it was time to increase again, and to move the needle up into the first loop again. For me, this works like a dream.

And to steal yet another idea from Turtlegirl's blog, this one is adjustable for different numbers of rows. Genius! One bead, one head pin, six split rings and six lobster claw clasps, and I have a 6-row counter. In fact, I should have made this with only five lobster claw clasps -- I attached the bead to a lobster claw and could have attached it straight to the split ring. This way, however, it can do double-duty as a row marker if I want it to.

If I need fewer rows for my pattern repeat, I remove some loops. I can add more just as easily.

While I was at it, I tried various other types of stitch and row markers:

stitch marker prototypes

The marker from my first batch is there for comparison, and the Clover openable marker is there for scale.

They are: two more two-row (but now adjustable!) row markers made with head pins, a single marker made with bead wire, a crimp bead and a split ring, and then one of my first batch of markers. You can see that I made the same mistake design feature with the one on the far left that I did with the 6-row one. The lowest lobster claw clasp is not necessary, unless I want to use it for a row marker (the kind you attach to a stitch instead of hanging on the needles).

The trick with the lobster claw clasps and split rings can make any of your existing stitch markers into row counters. I bought packs of 25 of each for about $13.

Thank you, Turtlegirl! Check out her Etsy shop for more genius creations.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My First February Baby Sweater

Sweater 1 (pic 2)

This is my first February Baby Sweater, but it’s certainly not the last. In fact, the second one is more than half done. I thought three skeins would be enough for two sweaters, but no, it’s pretty clear it won’t be.

This was a fun knit, although I had some confusion where the pithy pattern says to start the sleeves “at 4-1/2 inches”. At first I thought this must mean, 4-1/2 inches from starting the lace pattern, but no, it means 4-1/2 inches from the beginning. I added a little length to the body and arms (about 1”) since this worsted weight yarn is giving me a larger size than a lighter yarn would. I’m adding even a bit more in the second sweater.

Ladybug button

I love this pattern and would make it again in the future. I especially love the buttons (from JoAnn’s), which in real life match the sweater more closely than in this picture.


The yarn is mostly cotton with some merino. I liked it better than knitting with 100% cotton, which tends to hurt my hands. I didn't like it as much as knitting with all wool, though, but this baby lives in St. Louis. Although cotton was the "obvious" choice, I tend to think most every fiber is improved by blending it with wool, but that's just my personal bias. Wool wicks, you know. My LYS owner, Warren, said a yarn rep had told him she was much cooler on a vacation in Italy in cotton/wool blends than in all cotton.

me and Ava's sweater

I shamelessly procrastinated on wrapping and shipping this sweater so that I could show it off at knit night.

me and Carina's sweater yoke

The next one is well under way.

Details: Cascade Sierra (worsted weight), more than 1-1/2 skeins, size 7 KnitPicks Options metal circs.

Size: I don't really know. EZ famously says, "Babies come in a variety of sizes." I just hope that at some point the size of the baby and the size of the sweater match up.

Pattern: "Baby Sweater on Two Needles", commonly known as the "February Baby Sweater", from Elizabeth Zimmerman's "Knitter's Almanac".

Modifications: Knit sleeves in the round and picked up the underarm stitches when re-joining the body, for a completely seamless sweater. There are no buttonholes, the buttons just cover metal snaps.

All future baby girls coming into my life just may receive this sweater.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Sock Lobster Love!

Just the two of us

The Crazy Conservative Socks are done. In fact, they have been finished for some time, but I have fallen out of the habit of blogging regularly.

No apology from me, though, because I have taken the pledge. The Blogging Without Obligation pledge. Personally, I think you should thank me for not blogging daily, because you would all be bored senseless, but whatever.

To the knitting!

sock yarn leftovers

To those of you who have been knitting socks for even a short time, this should be a pretty familiar sight. No doubt those of you who don't knit socks have seen similar sights, but in this case, this is entirely fingering-weight yarn left over from socks I have knit. Which means I have tiny balls of yarn in other weights also sitting around somewhere, just not in this picture. Some of this yarn was just too nice to let sit around this way. It deserved a better fate. (Some didn't, and it is still sitting around.)

More importantly, I had sufficient quantities of some of it to actually justify doing something with it. I picked just these:

yarn before

Not only are there more than just scraps here, but I love most of these yarns.

The pink is leftover Dream in Color Smooshy, which I won in a contest and used for my Flow Motion socks.

The purple is hand-dyed by J.L. Yarnworks, and I love it! I used it in my purple monkeys, which I loved so much and yet gave away. This was traumatic, and I asked Ms. Yarnworks to dye me some more purple sock yarn, which she very obligingly did. I have been meaning to post a picture of that new yarn, but the light was so bad for a while there, and I haven't taken a picture of it yet. I love the new yarn too, and I might have to make more Monkeys to commemorate the others.

The blue yarn on the left is from my Waving Lace socks, and the blue yarn on the right is from my Stanfield 196 socks. (BTW -- I now own Leslie Stanfield's excellent stitch pattern book, and it is beyond me why she is referred to in so many places as "Stansfield", with two letter S's, when her name has only one S. It could be because her book is out of print, but that's not much of an excuse, really. But I digress.)

I ended up not using the Waving Lace yarn at all, so I still have that. The only commercial yarn in the lot is a solid, and had to stand in for some of the Purple Monkey yarn. I wish I had had more of the Purple Monkey sock yarn left, but alas I didn't.

side by sidesole to sole

You can see here that the purple on the legs of the socks doesn't match. Ah, well. Bonus -- you can see that the Purple Monkeys sock yarn is very gorgeous. The scanner can't get its color right at all.

They look too big in the photos, don't they? But now, after a trip through the wash, they fit ju-u-u-ust right.


They are very Harlequin-esque. One might even say, ugly. But a pair is somehow so ugly they're cute.

These socks do fit well. The areas of the picked-up stitches between areas of color feel a bit odd when I first put the socks on, but after that they are not noticeable.

For those of you who might be interested, here are the yarn amounts used (I tried to make a pretty table, but I don't know how to get blogger to display it correctly):

Pink Smooshy: starting weight 1.9 oz.; Sock One used 0.6 oz.; Sock Two used 0.6 oz.; total used, 1.2 oz.

Purple Monkey: starting weight 1.0 oz.; Sock One used 0.3 oz.; Sock Two used 0.6 oz.; total used, 0.9 oz.

Solid purple yarn: starting weight 1.0 oz.; Sock One used 0.2 oz.; total used, 0.2 oz.

Stanfield 196: starting weight 1.1 oz.; Sock One used 0.2 oz.; Sock Two used 0.1 oz.; total used, 0.3 oz.

Total for each sock: 1.3 ounces.

These amounts were all weighed on our handy-dandy electronic postal scale. The socks are women's size 8, knit on a KnitPicks 2.5mm 32" circ., magic-loop style, as always.

yarn remnants

And here are the leftovers (of the leftovers). The blue yarn there (from the Waving Lace socks) wasn't used, but the other blue yarn was pretty much used up.

Modifications: the original pattern is a men's, I re-sized for my feet. The on-line picture is too dark and seems to show the colors arranged as I have them, but I now realize that the pattern is written with the colors arranged differently.

Would I make these again? Actually, I might. The design is interesting to knit, although I have some quarrels with the way the pattern is written -- it could be a lot clearer. But now I know how it goes, so that's no longer a problem. It's a pretty good way to use up leftovers of solid or semi-solid yarns that go together, and turn scraps into socks -- what's not to like about that? There are a lot of ends to weave in, but that wouldn't be enough to stop me. It can also be easily adjusted for different sizes. Now that I know more precisely how much yarn of the various colors I would need, I just might be able to use this again to turn scraps into socks.