Thursday, November 27, 2008


Thank you for being here with me... for reading the blog and being cool.

Originally uploaded by psd

Thanks for great friends and family.

Thank you, thank you
Originally uploaded by magnetbox

Thanks for a great day job and a great moonlighting job. Both involve knitting!

Thank You
Originally uploaded by Orin Optiglot

Thanks for a fantastic town I get to call home.

Smurfette says thank you
Originally uploaded by joebeone

Thanks for the challenges. (I'm supposed to feel that way, right?)

hey, thanks
Originally uploaded by jonathan.youngblood

And thanks for the ten thousand other things, great and small, that make up life in this moment. Oh yeah, and pie. Thanks for pie.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sock Design Workshop, part 2

Or, A Word on the Importance of Blocking. I know what you're thinking, but please keep reading anyway.

This is part two of a monthly series in which I try to share bits of knowledge I've learned over the last few years as a new designer. Not always about socks, but it is so named anyway.

Part one discussed the submission process. Today I'll talk about something that is critical to the process, but not so glamorous.



Unblocked Esther socks

One looks pretty. One looks like dog business. The difference? Blocking. If you are submitting as a designer, you absolutely cannot skip this step, even for swatches. If you are knitting for fun, I hope you'll consider blocking your knits too. At least for the show and tell photo.

You probably know this, but blocking means shaping a wet finished knitted piece to achieve certain results, like altering the measurements, evening out stitches, and opening up lace.

Something I learned the hard way is that lace looks terrible until it is blocked. Not just mine, but everyone's. Always.

There are many methods of blocking, I'll mention a few of them here.


1. Wet blocking. This is almost always the method I use. It's simple and effective. Fill up the sink with water and some gentle wool wash. Squeeze the air bubbles out of your knitted item very gently and let it soak for a few minutes. Drain the sink and gently squeeze the water out of your knitting. Do not rinse. Lay it out on a towel and roll it up, drawing the water out of your knitted object. Finally, lay it out on a dry towel and pin it in place. Or use a blocking tool, as described below.

2. Steam blocking. I've done it, but not often. I find it fussy because it involves an iron or steamer, two items rarely making an appearance in my home. This is a good method for fibers that are delicate or stretch out a lot. Also, it's for you if you are the kind of person who has an iron handy. Congratulations, by the way.

Lay a wet towel on top of your knitting and press it here and there, releasing steam into your object. You can also skip the wet towel and hit the steam button (or use a steamer) over your knitting. When done, pin and let air dry.

3. Spray blocking. I've used this technique with delicate yarns or when the finished piece looks pretty good without any blocking at all. It's quick and easy. Pin the piece in place and spray until damp. Leave it alone until it's dry.


1. Rust-proof pins. Avoiding rusty stains on your knitting just makes sense.

2. Blocking wires. These are great for large lace projects. You thread thin wires through the edges of your knitting, instead of 10,000 pins.

3. Sock blockers. I use these constantly. I bought them here. You can also make your own. I wash finished socks and put them on the blockers and basically forget about them for a couple of days. Easy.

In Conclusion:

Yes, blocking makes a huge difference in your finished object. It also says something about you as a knitter. That you care enough about your work to make it the best it can be. You've already invested time and money into the project, why stop short on the final step?

If you are reading this, then you've actually made it to end of a lecture on blocking. Well done! You get extra points for sticking it out. You will undoubtedly have the last laugh when you show off your next properly blocked finished object. Ha!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Esther Socks

Grey skies, pink sockens.

Esther Socks

Pattern: Esther Socks by Stephanie van der Linden (Found on Ravelry)

Yarn: Hill Country Yarns Sweet Feet Color: Vermilion.

Hiya Hiya Stainless Steel 32" circular (magic loop), US size 1 (2.25mm)

Esther Socks

Pattern Review: Esther was designed for the Socken-Kreativ-Liste, a German yahoo-KAL with 2000 members. The English version includes some amusing translations.

The picot edge is referred to as "mouse teeth edging" which is at once really cute and a little horrifying.

This is my first picot cuff of this kind and I'm glad I've finally done it. It doesn't quite do what ribbing does, but it stays up well enough and matches the design on the sock pretty well. I still think of them as mouse teeth edging. I'm trying hard not to, actually.

I'll mention that the chart uses non-conventional symbols, which wasn't a problem at all. I used colored pencils to highlight the different stitches and I kept my place easily.

Modifications: Not much to speak of. I reduced the gusset in a more traditional way. I reversed the cables on the second sock for a mirrored effect.

Esther Socks

Yarn Review
: Well, the color is named vermilion and yet it is clearly pink. I'm not really into pink, but I think these came out pretty well.

Esther Socks

Fun to make, cute to wear. I enjoyed the non-traditional pattern style as well. I found it refreshing. Others may find it frustrating. Bear it in mind if you think you want to make them.

Hey! I've knitted myself some pink socks! From a German pattern! During October! Now where are the pretzels and beer already?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Yes we can

No matter what your personal politics, no one can deny the importance of the last few days in regards to our history as well as for our future.

This is really big. But, just saying it's really big makes it sound small somehow.

I don't know how to express all of the emotions I'm feeling these days. It's common for many of us to express ourselves through what we make. I spent a little time over on flickr and saw that many people found creative ways to express themselves.

They say a picture is worth 1000 words, so here is a long story about how we feel and how crafty we all are.

Pennsylvania has HOPE
Originally uploaded by a35mmlife

felt ball of hope 08
Originally uploaded by feltcafe

Originally uploaded by iwriteplays

Obama Knitter Girl
Originally uploaded by fyberduck

when knitting and politics collide
Originally uploaded by zannamarie

Obama Gnome
Originally uploaded by katywhumpus

Yes we can... take a nap in our new Obama sweater
Originally uploaded by unertlkm

Monday, November 03, 2008

Yay! You voted! High Five! Here's a PDF for you!

flared hat
Originally uploaded by -leethal-
My pal Lee is giving away an awesome fun-packed FREE PDF to people who vote.

You get:

- a knit pattern for the flared hat pictured (I plan on making one asap)
- a dandelion stencil
- an alpaca aplique design
- a thank you card to print out
- mac and cheese recipes and more from Pete

What are you waiting for!? Go get it now! HERE

Saturday, November 01, 2008

All of my projects are in trouble

Do you ever over think EVERYTHING? Yes, I'm looking at you. I'm obsessed with my struggling projects. Foolishly so. I'm hoping a public airing will help. Let's see.

1. A new sock project I'm designing for a secret something in the future. They're in the prototype phase and don't have to be perfect yet. They should be fun and cute enough to keep me working on them though.

- Why am I working the stitch pattern upside down? I discover this factoid around the time I get to the heel. I keep going because I want to experiment with a "new" and "interesting" heel technique. Which leads me to...

- Why is the heel large enough to fit Babaar? Seriously. Normal leg, normal ankle, giant bulbous sack of a heel. But, you know, naturally I keep going. Until... SNAP!

- Why did I break a needle working the lace? No biggie. Nothing $8 couldn't fix. But I'm starting to feel like this sock just doesn't want to exist. I almost hear a tiny voice begging me to pull the plug... and pull and pull and pull.

- Why am I stubborn and not ripping it out already? Ah, the real question. Sounds deep. Quick, let's talk about something else:

2. I thought it might be fun to do thick, DK-weight socks in an easy pattern as a mindless project. You know, to get my mind off the giant-heeled socks.

- Why is it so terribly ugly? Or is it? I think it is. I'll need to stare at it for a long time tomorrow. I may change my mind. I mean, I will change my mind. But then again...

- Why can't I decide to persevere or rip? Indecisiveness and stubbornness (again?) I suppose. Oh dear. Let's move on...

3. The Feather and Fan Comfort Shawl. It's lovely, the Malabrigo yarn is lovely, and the colors are great. That's one way to describe it.

The other way, is that I am now at the part where each row has a kazillion stitches so I can't do "just one more row" unless I know I can commit the time. While I work the row, I am wondering when to change colors next and which color to pick. And this is really dumb, but I'm caught up on the fact that I only chose 4 colors.

4 is not a Fibonacci number and therefore will not look as beautiful as it could... or some such nonsense. These are my thoughts as I work the shawl. Scary silly.

The shawl, earlier in the process:
Feather and fan comfort shawl

4. This is the big one. You know what it is, because it is haunting you as well: Christmas Knitting. I have some ideas, but it's not working out. At all. Not yet, at least.

Are you still with me? Thank you for allowing the ridiculous self indulgence. I know I'll get my mojo back soon, honest. It's just when the thing you do to relax goes wrong, the world feels funny.

Apologies to everyone with Real Problems. I'll leave you with a helpful quote from the beloved Wollmeise herself,

"It's just yarn, people."