Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ramble with a bit of Dylan Thomas

Fall has fallen. I am finishing the last few rows on a sweater for a ghost. I am burying nuts. I am returning library books and looking for bigger dreams.

photo by Nicholas_T via Flickr

Later this month I will talk about knitting, specifically in regards to some Day of the Dead socks, but for now let's just look at these lovely pictures and ponder the October-ness of today.

  Na konci každého tunelu je světlo!  [There's a Light at the End of Every Tunnel]
photo by Fesoj via Flickr

Especially when the October wind
With frosty fingers punishes my hair,
Caught by the crabbing sun I walk on fire
And cast a shadow crab upon the land,
By the sea's side, hearing the noise of birds,
Hearing the raven cough in winter sticks,
My busy heart who shudders as she talks
Sheds the syllabic blood and drains her words.

- Dylan Thomas, Especially When the October Wind

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Stripey Leg Warmers - Tutorial

Look at me, world!

Striped Leg Warmers
photo by Vivian Aubrey

I wear skirts year-round. I also get cold easily. I needed something special to wear with or without boots... you know, like knee socks. Hard truth, I was a wee bit burned out on knitting knee socks, as I made about four pairs in the last year. (!)

I was actually craving some cozy, cheerful leg warmers. I wasn't really up to knitting them, so I got creative. One of the things I Know To Be True, is if you aren't afraid to put scissors to knitted fabric, the world is really yours for the taking. If you're curious, I'll tell you how I made these happy leg warmers. It's really too easy.

You'll need some supplies. Here is what I used:

  1. Striped GAP sweater from Goodwill ($5)
  2. Scissors
  3. Knitting needles appropriate for your gauge. I used US size 00 (1.75 mm) 32" circular needle (or double pointed needles or 2 circulars, whatever method you like for small circumference knitting in the round)
  4. Yarn of similar thickness to sweater yarn, just under 100 yards. I used Brown Sheep Nature Spun Fingering in five colors (there were eight colors in the sweater but I compromised in the interest of sanity) bought here.
  5. Tapestry needle for weaving in ends

Step 1: Cut the sweater

cutting the sleeve
Deep breath!

After I was really, really sure this was what I wanted to do, I put the sweater on the table and took the best scissors I had to it. Luckily, this was a striped sweater so I had a cutting guide. I started at the place where the sleeve connected to the body and cut along one stripe all the way around. I did this on both sides.

Nothing bad happened.

Step 2: Pick up those live stitches

A Fine Tangle

After congratulating myself a few times I started to get the sense that the real work was still ahead of me. I picked up the knitting needle and started finding all of those live stitches along the top of the sleeve. I counted what I had (97) and found the number was almost divisible by four, so I knit two stitches together at the end to get there. (96 stitches total)

I worked a 2x2 (knit 2 stitches, purl 2 stitches) rib all the way around in a comparable striping sequence to the rest of the sleeve for about 2.5 inches. I carried the different colors up the inside except when the distance was too great (red and pink) and in those cases I cut the yarn and re-attached later.

It was messy and somewhat unpleasant, if I am being honest. The balls of yarn tangled around constantly and I enjoyed cutting the yarn when it was time. Tangles be gone!

Step 3: Finishing

knitting the cuff
Are you kidding me?

I bound off using Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off which created a perfect edge that was both stretchy and elastic. Success!

Then it hit me that I had 14 ends to weave in, on each leg. That made 28 ends in total! I tried not to ponder the ridiculousness of that many dangling threads in such a small cuff and made it through while watching Murder She Wrote streaming on Netflix and eating Trader Joe's dark chocolate bar with caramel and black sea salt.

The result:

Striped Leg Warmers
photo by Vivian Aubrey

I put them on immediately and haven't really taken them off yet. They are a nice break from my usual grey wardrobe. They are warm. They make me smile.

Step 4: Show them off

Striped Leg Warmers
photo by Vivian Aubrey

I'm pleased with the result, and they were (amazingly) completed at the right time of year. Already the transition into the drizzly dark cloudiness has hit Portland. I'm prepared. I have sunshine on my legs.

The only question left is what to do with the sweater body? 

If you made it this far, thanks for reading! Special thanks to Vivian, who knows how to turn a sludge-infected alley into a cozy secret passageway through her magical photography. She literally knelt in garbage-water to take these pictures. Love her! (She took the first picture and the last two, in case it isn't obvious)

Tuesday, October 04, 2011


Long Night's Journey into Day

I don't recall having much of a summer but suddenly Socktober is here once again. It's the month that hits you, if you actually think you are going to knit any gifts for the holidays you better get cracking now.

Socks are an ambitious gift, but worsted-weight socks are a little more reasonable, and FAST. Which brings me to...

Long Night's Journey into Day

Long Night's Journey Into Day -- a cardigan-like buttoned sock.

Long Night's Journey into Day

Inspiration: It was a dark and stormy night. The teapot whistled and a fire was lit. She reached into the top drawer and slipped on the coziest pair among the bunch…

As the seasons change and the nights grow longer we need small comforts to protect us from the evening chill. This pair starts with the cuff, then stitches are picked up for the foot. You can even knit the foot in a contrasting yarn if you’d like, or perhaps make them taller socks. When completed, real buttons function like a cardigan sweater for added warmth. This pattern also includes some hot drink recipes for you to explore while knitting your own pair of extra thick socks.

Long Night's Journey into Day

Sizes: Women’s Small (Women’s Medium, Women’s Large)

Foot circumference: 7 (8, 9) inches 17.5 (20, 23 cm) unstretched. Will stretch to fit 8 (9, 10) inches 20 (23, 25.5 cm).

Gauge: 20 sts/34 rows = 4" in st st

Needles: 1 set US #3/3.25mm straight or circular needles (CUFF) AND 1 set US #4/3.5mm (SOCK) 32” circular needles (magic loop), 2 sets of 24” circulars or double pointed needles, or size to get gauge.

Yarn: Worsted-weight yarn that gives you proper gauge. Sample shown: Dream in Color Classy [100% Superwash Wool; 250 yd per 4 oz skein]; color: Crying Dove: 1 (2, 2) skeins. Sample is a medium which used 300 yards.

Notions: Tapestry needle, cable needle, 10 - 3/4” buttons.

Long Night's Journey into Day

Thank you for re-visiting an October-inspired pattern with me today. I really wanted to share more poetry and music but you know, I like knitting too.

The pattern is $3.99
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This pattern is also part of the Socks For All Seasons e-book -- 13 patterns for $15.99 (limited time only)
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Long Night's Journey into Day

Sunday, October 02, 2011

'Neath the cover of October skies

On the second day of October I bring you another diversion. This gem was unearthed during my quest to find cool stuff that relates to this month. Why? Let's just say I am feeling particularly excited about the fresh air I am suddenly breathing. I welcome October. You couldn't have come at a better time.

I know this is a knitting blog but that "other things too" disclaimer up there makes it okay for all of these youtube videos and poems and other ramblings, yes? Good.

Moondance by Van Morrison - The Song, The Youtube Video

Yes, the font is silly.

Yes, "piano solo" in the middle is both distracting and not fair to the horns.

Yes, it's nice to see the lyrics anyway! I am feeling them. Are you?

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Hi October

Bittersweet October.  The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause
between the opposing miseries of summer and winter. -   Carol Bishop Hipps

I imagine there are many things to look forward to this month. You know, as long as you have things to look forward to, you're going to be alright. 

I am looking forward to getting my next collection going, spending quality time with friends and family, and if I recall... this just might be the month pumpkin shakes return to Burgerville. What are you looking forward to?

I'm also looking forward to exploring new ways to connect with knitters... which reminds me:

My e-book Socks For All Seasons is now available on Amazon!

I sure like the way October is unfolding so far!