Saturday, May 30, 2009


I recently finished my ninth and tenth pairs of socks. I feel like I should stop for a while, especially since I rarely wear socks in the summer. But I probably won't. I made this pair for Anne in her favorite color. I used the good ol' Schurch Double Moss stitch. Here is its Ravelry page.

This is the second time I've used Dream in Color sock yarn. Their variegated yarns are the best ever; never any jarring contrasts or pooling. The last batch I used was called Gaia. It has been renamed Smooshy, and I think it is a little thinner than before. I automatically took out the larger size 1 needle (2.50 mm), but I think the 2.25 might have been better. Or maybe not. These socks also seemed a little smaller than usual. Maybe the 2.25 needle with 72 stitches instead of 64?

I made the tenth pair for myself, because I REALLY needed some pink socks. Actually, I was seduced by the yarn I encountered at the Loopy yarn tasting described in the last post. I used the Zigzag pattern from the Vogue sock book. I couldn't look away because the socks were also shown in pink. Here is its Ravelry link.

A weird thing about this pattern was that the directions called for seven stitches to the inch for a size medium sock on 64 stitches. I think that would have made a large sock. So I followed the pattern, but at 8 stitches to the inch. Maybe the fact that the pattern used Gem sport weight instead of sock weight makes the difference, but I don't see how.

Another weird thing was the star toe. This toe is what the designer used, so I thought I'd try it. I noticed that some ravelry people thought that this toe was so ugly that they frogged and reknit it. I thought, how bad can a toe be? Well, it is not a pretty or pleasant toe, way too pointed, but it looks like a cute little pinwheel off the foot. I won't use it again.

Maizy by Crystal Palace is 82% corn fiber and 18% elastic nylon. The resulting sock fits well, is soft, and though it stretches out easily, it snaps back into shape really well when you take it off. One problem though. It feels like wearing plastic. Corn is a natural fiber, but like rayon, which is made from wood, it has a synthetic feel. The socks are pretty though.

Here is more pretty. It's that time of year - garden photos! No deer this year (so far). My hostas are standing up proud.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Do you want to see something horrible?
This is yarn I spun (spinned?) on this:

I took a four hour spinning class at Loopy, a great local yarn store in the Printer's Row area of Chicago. I wrote about Loopy last year when I went on a mini yarn crawl with my friend Linda.

The class was great. Meg, my teacher, made me the spindle pictured above and gave me tons of roving to practice on. She took me from rolling a stick along my knee to spindling to spinning and plying on a wheel. She also taught me how to card roving. She made the blue yarn that is plied with the yarn I made above. It's not her fault that the yarn is awful.

Now I realize that if I were to practice I could probably make better yarn, even on a spindle. But you know what? In my maturity I begin to see that you don't have to do everything in life. I didn't take to spinning that well. I especially disliked the wheel- spinning posture of leaning forward toward the wheel to feed the draft. I got out of the lessons what I wanted; I learned something about how yarn is made.

I am still fascinated with the process of wool and yarn-making though. I am looking at dyeing with natural dyes. I have a little patch in the back of my garden that would be perfect for growing dye plants. I also read a strange and amazing book called Lambs of God by an Australian, Merele Day, about an isolated group of three elderly nuns who organize their days and lives around sheep, fleece, yarn, and knitting. I have also been reading re-told fairy tales about spinning, featuring retellings of the Rumpelstiltskin story. Here is a link to a work blog I contribute to where I posted a review of several of these stories.

Now here is something else about Loopy. I went to their Spring yarn tasting. It was fun, but what an incredible marketing tool for them. If you or anyone you know has a yarn store, you must try this technique. As a result of trying out yarn, I bought $70 worth of yarn that I never would have bought otherwise. I am currently knitting with Maizy sock yarn, a soft yarn made out of corn (!) and my first Malabrigo, Silky Merino, pictured here. I am making my third Clapotis with it, to be a smaller, slinkier scarf than the two I already have.

Here is how the yarn tasting worked. They gave us lengths of 37 different yarns, listed in the order they gave them out on a 'menu'. I couldn't keep up with the knitting (I got there late), but I did identify three yarns I loved: the two mentioned above and Prima by Debbie Bliss. By comparing them with other yarns I was able to see that the Silky Merino and the Prima gave sharply defined, even stitches. Here is the swatch I made of some of the yarns:

Monday, May 11, 2009

a little progress

I haven't been working much on the Learn to Knit Afghan. I guess other projects have been more compelling lately. But I did sew the first column together and loved the results. Here is a photo.

Here is another view.

The panel is too long to photograph as one strip, so it is folded over.

At first, I was a little shocked by the color combination, but now I think it looks modern and fresh. I put it around my neck and sort of wished for a scarf like it. I am following Barbara Walker's outline for the order of the squares. Her design distributes the colors and color combinations well and makes a pattern with the diagonals. That is just the sort of thing I don't like to figure out for myself.

Here is the last square I finished.

I'm still working on the twisted stitch chapter. Currently I'm doing a bias stripe that is simple, but a little tiresome. I think I'll go and try to finish it tonight.