Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Creative Recap

And now it's time for the annual creative recap. This year I knit a lot. I didn't realize how much until I took this screencap of my ravelry project page. I posted up 20 projects. And as with every year, not every project made it up. This year I made 9 pairs of socks, 4 sweaters (which included a Dad sized sweater and a fingering weight sweater), 2 shawls, 2 infinity scarves, 1 regular scarf, 1 hat, and 1 ornament. There is a pretty good chance that I knit a half million stitches this year. (Actually, I know that I did. Most of what I knit gets partially ripped multiple times before it is completed.)

As for design work, I put out the companion shawl to Celestarium, the Southern Skies. And then I released Lit Knits. I still can't believe that the book is finished.

So what will this next year hold? Well, I had a look at my stash today, and it looks like I need to knit up a lot more socks. I'm definitely not keeping up with my sock yarn acquisitions. I also have a few designs in the works. But after finishing the book, I think this year will be more about selfish knitting.

What are your guys' knitting plans for the upcoming year? And do you have a particular weight of yarn that you can't keep up with?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Pinnacles Or The Lonely Mountain

On the 29th was my 4th blog anniversary. For the last three years, I've gone to Green Planet Yarn. Like many great traditions, it ended up broken, but for good reason. Rachael invited me to go hike at Pinnacles National Park, which was a tough offer to pass up. The weather was perfect. This area gets pretty hot, so it's better to go in winter. But it's also tough when it is wet. This has been the driest year in California since records have been taken. So although we need more rain, it has been a great hiking year.

It should be noted that there are many trails and loops. But they are not for a casual hiker. We did the 8 mile loop, which ended up being closer to 10 miles since we did some exploring. But you can't beat the view. This is where we had lunch. Although it is difficult to see in the picture, just past my feet is a steep cliff.

Then there was the trail that was called "Steep And Narrow." It's not a misnomer. There were parts where the rocks came out so far that you had to hike leaning 45 degrees to get past.
I stole this from Rachael. Rarely do we get a picture of the both of us on an adventure.

There are California Condors that live in the area. They are an endangered bird, and according to Rachael, a big deal for bird watchers. We did see some soaring above us later on in the hike. I wish we had gotten to see them a little closer.
As we hiked on, we noticed that some of the rocks had pretty distinct forms. This one looked like Smaug the dragon to me. The left side has a bit of a snout and nostril. And it has a wicked looking smile. It's neck arches over the top of the main rock.

But, by far, the neatest part of the hike was where we got to go through a cave. Bear Gulch was closed, so we went through the Balconies cave. I accidentally took a picture while I was fiddling with the flashlight. Here's what the inside of a cave looks like.

Once you emerge from the darkness, you eventually end up in an area where giant boulders have wedged themselves in fissures of the mountain. They kind of reminded me of dragon eggs. Both Rachael and I decided that it would be a terrible place to be if there was an earthquake. Also, we felt a bit like we were in Lord of the Rings. Possibly the Mines of Moria.

When we left the cave area, we realized that we had probably been under that dragon looking mountain from earlier. So perhaps Smaug is actually a girl and we were in the Lonely Mountain. It was by far the neatest hike I'd ever been in. I'm looking forward to hiking it again.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Sock Hop

So I managed to finish my Vintage Christmas socks in time for Christmas Eve. (I wore my Smaug socks on Christmas day when we all went out to see the second Hobbit movie.) I'm quite pleased with how they turned out. Although I managed to get a pink blotch on them on the first washing because they touched the Smaug socks. Mum says it doesn't look that bad. I think I was more upset because they were fresh off the needles. I also think that I will start washing the Smaugs by themselves. They had been doing great and not leaking dye for many hand washings. Then I threw them in the machine (because they are superwash) and promptly dyed my grey underwear into a delightful hue of pink. They've been unpredictable since then. At least the socks haven't gotten dull with the loss of dye.

But back to the Vintage Christmas socks. Scooter insisted in helping out again during the photoshoot. Recently he has insisted in being in all the frames during photoshoots. I think that he doesn't like it when he isn't the center of attention.
Pay attention to me human

In the background of the photos, you can see that my brother got me a gift this year. The real surprise was that he managed to spell my name correctly this year. We don't really do gifts, but in 2011 he got me one... and spelled my name wrong. He did a better wrapping job that you see in the picture, but since he got me a game that we both wanted to play, we unwrapped it before Christmas, played, then he rewrapped it.

In other knitting news, I've cast on a new pair of socks. It's another pair of Vanilla socks in Canon Hand Dyes color Days Of Wine And Roses. I thought it would be nice to get a pair done for Valentines Day. I've been addicted to making Vanilla socks. I don't know how long this will last, but I'm not one to stop a knitting streak.

What has everyone been working on now that the holiday knitting is over. (Or are you guys still trying to finish holiday knitting?)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Operation Sock Drawer

I've been listening to the Knitmore Girls Podcast and was inspired by their series called Operation Sock Drawer. The idea is to pump up your sock drawer with more socks. I don't actually have my socks in a drawer. I have them out in the open so I can enjoy them. They usually reside in my book case next to my sock pattern books.

From left to right, on the top row are 3 pairs of Velomeisters, Sleepy Hollow Socks, 2 pairs of Leyburns
Middle Row has TARDIS socks, Denature, Smaug socks, Free Bees, and 2 pairs of Any Gauge Ribbed Socks
Bottom row has Vanilla Latte, Skyp, Pomatomas, and the last two were knit for me by Tyler. They are Skew and Rivendell

It's taken me so long to post about the socks that I've actually finished another pair. Here is my We're All Mad In Here vanilla socks. I took extra care to get the stripes to line up well around the heel. (It required a lot of ripping and some really good notes to myself.)

Scooter decided to help out when I was taking pictures. He has an uncanny ability to walk into the frame when you are trying to take a picture.

I had brought out a little Cheshire Cat to add to the photo. Scooter decided that it was a comfy pillow. He's pretty silly. At the moment, he is asleep with his head on my foot and he is snoring.

I've already started my next pair of socks. This yarn is Vintage Christmas from Canon Hand Dyes. It will be another pair of vanilla socks. I'm hoping that I'll be able to finish the pair in time to wear on the 24th. It could happen, if I could stop being such a perfectionist about everything. I plan on wearing my Smaug socks on the 25th when we go see the second Hobbit movie.

Is anyone else working on their Operation Sock Drawer?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Operation Christmas Tree

We have a Christmas tree! Why is this a big deal? Because this is the first tree I have ever had. Growing up, we didn't really do Christmas. No tree, no presents, no lights. I was ok with a lot of that, except for the tree part. I've always wanted a tree. Because we've never had a tree, we don't really have any ornaments, or more importantly, a tree topper. I have a collection of lights from when I used to run shows. It was a great way to light an area without it being too bright. And I talked my Dad into helping me string cranberries and popcorn. But since I'm a knitter, I decided to knit up the tree topper.

I used the Stjärna pattern as a starting point. But I made some mods to make it fit on top of the tree. The star is made in two halves, so I used Judy's Magic Cast On (Which I learned specifically for this project. It's a way easy cast on. I should have tried it out sooner.) After completing the first side of the star, I put 2 stitches before and 2 stitches after the original cast on on a stitch holder. Then I provisionally cast on 4 stitches to make up for the "missing" 4 stitches. After finishing the second side of the star, I stuffed it then picked up the 8 held stitches, plus 2 extra stitches on either side of the held stitches. 

I then knit a tube the length of the star. On the last round, I k2tog all the way around, then threaded the yarn through the remaining 5 stitches and cinched it tight.

The toughest part was shoving the tube into the star. I had pulled the yarn at the end of the tube into the star. If I had been a little wiser, I would have threaded the yarn at the end of the tube into the top of the star and used it to help me inside our the tube. Eventually I got it.

Tada! A star on top of the tree. (I did put a little plastic on top of the tree to keep sap from touching the yarn.) I've been enjoying it each night.
Even Scooter has his own stocking.

So does anyone else have any yarn/ knitting/ fiber craft decorations on their tree? Any suggestions? I've got a thread started up on the Bear Ears rav group and I'd love to see pictures or pattern suggestions.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Dad's birthday has come and gone, so he now has the sweater. I asked for a quick photo shoot today and we took only two pictures... total. One of the front.

And one of the back. I'm glad to have such an awesome Dad to knit for. (For the record, he is completely knit-worthy. Every knitted gift has been well used.)
The only mod I made to this pattern was to tack down the collar rather than install toggles. To help keep the tension off of one point in the collar, I tacked down both sides and across the top of where I wanted it to attach. The yarn is Naturally Mainlander Aran in color 862 and the pattern is Brownstone.

Meanwhile on the Canon Hand Dyes KAL front, I think I have finally nailed down a stockinette sock that fits. Usually my gauge is really loose. (Like a 56 stitch sock with size 0 needles loose.) I had noticed that my gauge has been tightening up recently (not sure why) so I cast on 60 stitches for the sock. I figured that would be enough ease. I knit the whole leg and turned the heel, started the gusset when I finally decided that it really was too tight, so rip, rip, rip. Then I cast on 64 stitches (much better), turned the heel, started the gusset, and decided that the stripes could match up a bit better, so rip, rip, rip. Then I put in the full gusset, and realized that I had reversed my preferred placement of the decreases. Rather than rip (because it was getting really old at this point) I dropped down and made all the k2togs into ssks and vice versa. I think I have finally got a sock that looks and fits great. Hopefully when i get to the second one, it goes a bit more smoothly. (Again, this is why I don't do two at a time socks.)

Has anyone else been ripping more than they've been knitting recently?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

When There's Nothing On The Needles, Cast On!

The Dad Sweater has been completed! Dad didn't want it before his birthday, so I'll have to get modeled pictures some time next week. 

Canon Hand Dyes is having a Black Friday KAL which involves knitting with her yarns. I'm rearing to go. I've already wound my skein of "We're All Mad In Here."

The only problem with the KAL starting on Friday is that I finished the Dad Sweater last week.... which meant I had absolutely nothing on the needles. I took this as an opportunity to knit a pair of Haleakala socks. And the yarn is a skein of Tosh Sock in Nebula that I unearthed from my stash the last time I went through and straightened everything. It's definitely one of the older skeins I have, and I think it pairs well with this pattern.

Of course it wouldn't be a true sock experience without some ripping. I'm making the laced version and it ended up being a bit tight over my instep. So I ripped back and made the heel flap a bit longer than I would for other socks so that there would be more gusset stitches which, in turn, would make the top of the sock looser. It fits much better now.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Middleford Yarn Co.

Last week I went up to visit my Oma. On the way, Mum and I visited some yarn shops. I got a warm reception at Middleford Yarn Co. in Medford Oregon. We popped in and found out that it was one of their knit nights, so of course I had to stay and knit. (I only managed to knit one round of the Dad sweater... what can I say, I'm chatty.) I also managed to not take one photo the entire trip. Luckily for me Heather took one of Tami and I. And now you can find copies of Lit Knits at Middleford.
I will definitely be back, the shop is beautiful. And next time I'll remember to bring my camera.

In other news for anyone who will be in the Bay Area this weekend, I'll be at the Piedmont Avenue Craft Fair on November 23rd from 10-4 with copies of Lit Knits for sale. It’s located at the Piedmont Elementary School Auditorium, 4314 Piedmont Ave. Hope to see you guys there!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Finish All The Things!

It's funny how every autumn, everyone gets really busy, including me! After getting the books, it was just event after event. I barely have had a chance to catch my breath. Anyways, I was thinking about what to write and I realized that I haven't talked much about what I've knit, much less what I've finished in quite some time. So without further ado, here is a parade of FOs starting with one from (gasp) August. I made the Free Bees pattern in 2011, but it wasn't until this year that I knit myself a pair. So here is August's FO. Free Bees knit with Tosh Sock in the Gilded color way.

In September I knit up my third pair of Velomeisters from the yarn I got during the epic yarn crawl of '13. This was the closest match of yarn I could find to match my crazy bike shoes. The orange is so loud in both the shoes and socks that there was no way to get the camera sensor to capture them correctly. Just know that it's hard to miss me when I bike by. The yarn is Alchemy Juniper in the Blue Jay Way and Tangerine color ways.

In October I knit up both a Deep Sea Wanderer, seen in an earlier post, and this Watch Cap. The hat was for a friend's birthday. He was thrilled. I had a hard time giving it up though, it fit me pretty well. The yarn is  Plymouth Worsted Superwash Merino in the Dark Gray color way. 

Then there is the Pomatomus socks. It took me from September to November to make these. And considering that I knit on them nearly everyday, that is far longer than they should have taken. Previous posts explain the multiple problems I had (because of me, not the pattern.) The socks are awesome though. The yarn is Socks That Rock Medium Weight in the Tlingit color way that Alicia destashed on me. Thanks Alicia! The socks truly rock.

So what am I left with? Well, I'm knitting my father a birthday sweater. I started in September, but I completely ignored it in favor of finishing the Pomatomus socks. However, as soon as the socks were done, I realized that I had less than a month to finish the sweater. So I have been completely monogamous with this project. It is my only WIP at the moment. That's right. I have nothing else on the needles. I have so many things I want to cast on, but I know I won't finish this on time if I do.
It is Brownstone out of Naturally Mainlander Aran in color 862. Dad was with me when I bought the yarn in New Zealand in 2010. He said, "Maybe you could make me a sweater." I laughed at him. I'd never made a sweater before and I certainly wasn't ever going to make a dad-sized sweater. I suppose the joke is on me. (The picture below isn't current. I've only got 2.25 inches left of the collar, then it is just all the finishing work.)

I don't even know what to cast on next. Everything seems exciting at this point.
What are you guys working on these days? Or are you about to have a bout of start-itus like me?

Monday, November 11, 2013

It's Here!

It's here! We picked up Lit Knits from the printer on Friday and it came out wonderfully.

We ended up using two cars to pick up all the boxes. Dad and I unloaded one of the cars while Mum talked to a neighbor. When she came in she said, "Wow, that doesn't look too bad." Dad had to tell her, "The other half of the boxes are in the study." "Oh." 
These are just half the boxes. 

We spent Saturday evening packing up all the books in mailers. They will be sent off this week. So if you preordered a book, keep a weather eye out for your package. And if you missed out on the preorder, the books are now available to order. (Or if you live near A Verb For Keeping Warm, they have some copies as well.)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Knitting Lab = Mojo Restoration

After dealing with the sock that refused to be knit, I lost my knitting and blogging mojo. I was starting to think that I'd never feel better until Tyler and I went to Interweave Knitting Lab in San Mateo. And then this happened. 

Canon Hand Dyes is one of my new favorite yarns and when I found out Amy of CHD was going to be at KnitLab, I was beside myself. And then Pigeonroof was there.... and Knitwit. Here is the evidence of my lack of self control.
The top row is: Freia Ombre Worsted in Denim, and two skeins of Pigeonroof SUPER Sock in Malachite (top) and Dragon Days (bottom)
The bottom row is all the Canon Hand Dyes (L-R): In the William base we have a brown heel toe skein, Vintage Christmas, We're All Mad Here, Etude No.18, and I Desire Nothing But The Reward Of A Villian. The next two skeins are the Charles base in The Prince Of Darkness Is A Gentleman and Days Of Wine And Roses.
The truth is, I wanted more. So much more. I satisfied myself a bit by enabling everyone at the yarn shop later on.

I also talked to Esther who treated me to some stitch markers. I'm super stoked about the Little Prince and Star. We had talked about the Celestarium. It was #1 in her queue and I had the original with me. So naturally one thing led to another and now I have some lovely stitch markers.

I did finally manage to finish the stubborn socks this past week. I'll talk about them soon. Unfortunately I'm not diving into anything new because I'm trying to finish the epic Dad Sweater in time for his birthday. I have less than 4 weeks to do it. I think I can, but I'm currently in the vast wastes of the stockinette body.... and the sock yarn is calling to me.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Blocking With Nemo

I finished up knitting my Deep Sea Wanderer a few days ago, but I didn't get to blocking it until just yesterday. It's amazing what a good blocking can do to a project. Stitches relax and the project becomes what it was meant to be. To prove it, here is a blocked and unblocked Deep Sea Wanderer. 

There are different blocking methods for different projects. But for this one, I just soaked it in the sink, pushed the water back out, then lay it outside. Sometimes I'll pin the project, but for this one I just smoothed out the infinity scarf with my hands. I've found that I'll often end up with a crease in my projects. What I do to prevent it is to rotate the project periodically while it is drying. A quarter to half turn will do it.

Tada! A finished infinity scarf. It's hard to believe that the first picture in this post is of the same two scarves.

I just have to wait for it to get cold enough to wear it. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Año Nuevo

On Wednesday Mum and I decided to get out of the house and go to Año Nuevo State Park. It was a beautiful day. One of the docents told us that every day she had been out there, since April, had been cold and windy. I like to think that good weather follows me. I hope I'm not jinxing myself.

There is a large colony of Elephant Seals that live at the park. It's a bit of a trek through the sand dunes to get to the area where the seals are, but it is worth it. (It's also worth doing the walk in sandals, unless of course you enjoy pouring half the beach out of your shoes when you are done.)
While we were watching these guys, there were a whole bunch of them flipping sand onto themselves.

I also noticed a pattern in how they itched themselves. Every time any of them had an itch, they would first lift their flipper into the air, where it would stand for a little while. Then they would do the Queen's wave, followed by a good scratch.

But my favorite bit was seeing their tracks. It kind of looked like giant lizard tracks.

Right now there are only juvenile seals out there. But come winter, the large males (with giant, silly noses) will be out there battling for a harem of ladies. I'm hoping we can go out and watch.
Bonus: Elephant Seals fast while they are on land, so they don't foul up their living area. They smell a-ok. The California Seal Lions are another story....

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Sock That Refused To Be Knit

So I've been working on the same sock since Sept 22nd. I've knit on it nearly every day and it still isn't a sock. The saga of the Pomatomus sock began innocently enough. I saw that Alicia was destashing yarn, so I got a skein of Socks That Rock Medium Weight in Tlingit from her. I've desired this color for some time and I liked Elfielori's project that I'd seen done with it. The sock was 72 stitches, and I already knew I'd be modifying it down to a 60 stitch. No problem. But then I got fancy...
I decided to do 2.5 repeats of the pattern down the leg. Once I got to the foot, I'd figure how to proceed. Except I couldn't figure it out. I puzzled and puzzled... and then I noticed a different problem. My decreases had been k2tog. They SHOULD have been k2tog tbl. Three little letters I didn't read. It bothered me, so I ripped back to the cuff. (Note, in the picture there is no heel. I had put the heel in and most of the gusset before discovering the additional tbl problem.)

Try #2. I decided not to get fancy, so I did the 3 full repeats of the pattern down the leg, turned the heel, started the gusset... and it was too tight. So I ripped out the gusset, extended the heel, put in the gusset again.... and although the gusset now fit, I realized that the rest of the sock was a little tight. And by "a little tight" I mean that I was nearly ripping the sock in order to get my foot in it. Once it was in, it fit. I then decided that the sock was too tall and I didn't really like how the yarn pooled.... so RIP.

Try #3. I went up a needle size and I'm only doing two repeats of the pattern down the leg. I like how the colors are lining up now.

Mum called me a bulldog for continuing on with this sock. I'm hoping that means that I'm persistent. Anyways, this sock is a prime example of why I don't do 2-at-a-time socks. Hopefully I'll have at least one sock to show for Soctober.
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