Oceanside

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It is good to know people with family beach cabins!

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My crafting group has come to the Oregon coast for a long weekend.  Between the four of us we have spinning wheels, sewing machines, a Cricut machine, felted wool, and near limitless yarn.  A fifth, non crafting friend has come along and taken over the role of pastry supplier.  There is homemade chai spice infused vodka and blueberries straight from the garden.  There is a carved salmon wrapped in Christmas lights.  We lack nothing.

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I had the perfect sewing spot to make flannel pajama pants.  Llama pants!  It makes me happy just to say that.  We also now each have tracing of cropped pants pattern pieces in our various sizes and I’ve gotten my hands on a coveted sun hat pattern.

There was a felted vessel viewing, along with what I’m told will be a suspended abstract storm cloud, and felted fabric.  Rolled wool strips are becoming a trivet.  Sweaters are coming off needles in various stages of finish.

A trip to Goodwill resulted in a backpack made from a table cloth, a curtain, and an IKEA seat cover.

A pair of socks is off my needles and ready to wear (with thanks to Paige who likes both Kitchener stitch and weaving in ends.  I don’t understand it, but I appreciate it.)

In between all the fiber work, we’ve been on beach walks, cooked a lot of tasty meals, and danced to 80s music.  (OK, that last one might just have been me.)  And made marvelous cocktails.  The clear winner of the popular vote is that chai spice vodka.  Mixed with fresh squeezed orange juice, San Pellegrino lemonade, and frozen mango as ice cubes, it may explain the 80s dancing.88CB5851-4D4B-4358-8F94-8450F47DD60F

 

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Spring break in Surprise

We’ve just finished up spring break in Surprise, Arizona, where my mom has a winter place.

I took my usual plethora of cactus photos.

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We were very lazy this trip, spending much of the time hanging by the community pool during the day and playing games and working on puzzles in the evenings when we could pry the boys off their electronics.

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They finished a lot of puzzles, mainly because they kept buying easier and easier ones.  They wanted the sense of accomplishment rather than a challenge.

I walked a lot around the trails and neighborhoods with my sister, trying to build my endurance back up after a horrid chest cold that had taken down all my family members throughout March.

We did go overnight to Sedona and took one of the pink Jeep tours through the red rock area.  Rough roads but gorgeous scenery.

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On our way back we stopped at Montezuma’s Castle National Park to see the remains of the cliff dwellings.  We needed to sneak at least a little education into the vacation.

EE913583-DA59-490B-B431-65F9D633B256I got just a bit of knitting done – I brought my sock to the pool every time, but the water called me away from the yarn.

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This may be our last year here, as Mom isn’t sure she is going to come back.  Having two places is getting to be a bit much for her.  If it was our last trip, it was a very relaxing one.

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A finish, a start, and a revival

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My finish this week is my Aether shawl.  I’m sad to have finished it.  I loved the yarn, loved the pattern, loved the process.  And I suspect, if the trend continues, that I will love wearing it.

The before and after shots show the magic role blocking plays in lace knitting!  This shawl has a six foot wingspan, and that is after I skipped the final pattern repeat.

I finished it up in Seattle where I joined my fiber friends, Paige, L1 (AKA Seattle Leslie) and L2 (AKA Oregon Leslie).

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(A sample picture of the necessities for a knitting weekend. Plus wine.)

We spent most of the time hanging out with our knitting, but we did take a break at one point to drive over to Carnation, for a first time visit to Tolt Yarn and Wool.

It is a warm, friendly shop, and a sweater knitter’s dream.  So many beautiful yarn lines, worsted and woolens in a rainbow of solids and heathers.  Whole sections provided enough colors for any fair isle project.  It made my fingers inch to take up a project with lots of cables or complicated multi-color patterns.

There were less of the highly varigated or speckle dyed yarns that are the recent craze.  It fell into more classic styles in the yarn and in the samples.  It made for a very pretty shop.

So what did I buy? Yarn made of nettles. Not soft, not pretty, but it intrigued me. I think it will someday become placemats, or a table runner. They should be hard wearing and drapey after repeated washing.

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My new knitting start is another pair of socks, to become the tote bag project.  There always needs to be a portable project in my tote bag.  These will be made from another skein of Knit Picks Bare that I dyed in jars, this time in turquoise, gray, and a gray-blue.  The free pattern is called Petty Harbour, and I have knit it before.  It is a simple four row repeat, which is what on-the-go, frequently interrupted knitting needs.

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My revival is my handspun sweater that has languished in a bag in the craft closet for months.  I’m not sure why, other than it has so many different balls of yarn attached that it takes some effort and space to keep untangling them all.  The pattern is simple, the yarn wrangling is not.

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Just a simple raglan cardigan-to-be, made entirely from my handspun yarn.  It is using up a lot of the single skeins that had been piling up.

Overall, a yarn filled week.  That’s never a bad thing.  🙂

Warm toes

Just what the winter cold calls for – a new pair of warm wool socks!

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I don’t wear my hand knit socks with shoes often.  My feet overheat with wool inside shoes.  Occasionally with snow boats or when camping maybe.  But I wear them around the house pretty much daily in the winter.  The tile kitchen floor is so chilly!  So, it is good to get a new pair in rotation.

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These are from a free pattern called Village Socks. The yarn is Knit Picks bare that I dyed in jars.  They’ve been my tote bag project, carted here and there and knit up a few rows at a time since September.  Progress shots were posted on the blog back when I made my first needle holders.

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I prefer to knit socks from the cuff down to the toes. I like how the heel is constructed in that method.  I’m gradually improving with the kitchener grafting that is always the last step before finishing.  Not my strongest skill and I have to look up the stitch order each time, but when I’m done I do admire the seamless results.

With the socks done, I needed a new tote bag project.  After some time searching Ravelry patterns, I chose a garter stitch lace shawl in a warm gold to add color to these gray days.  Knitting with Madeline Tosh yarns is always pure joy.

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Fuzzy feet

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Now that the presents are all unwrapped I can post the slippers I made my mom.

These are an amazingly fast knit, from a free pattern called Fuzzy Feet.  I have made endless pairs of these for family and friends over the years.  Any thick, feltable yarn works.  For some of them I hold worsted double and they are still successful.

These knit up in a day, big loose stitches on size 10 1/2 needles.  For these I used the yarn called for in the pattern, Lamb’s Pride worsted, a wool and mohair single ply yarn in Christmas green.

I knit two giant footie socks – I ran out of yarn at the very end and had to improvise, which makes them even more Christmassy!

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Then they just get thrown in with loads of laundry for the next few days.  We do laundry endlessly around here – very active boys – so that goes quickly as well.  They felt and shrink and eventually become human feet sized.

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This is after the second of three washes.  I shrunk them to just a bit smaller than my mom’s feet – as she wears them around, they will stretch a little and shape to her feet.

These are replacements for the same type of slippers I made her a few years ago.  They wore long and well, but we were to the darning stage and that can only stretch their lives out so long – it was time for a replacement pair.

Merry Christmas, Mom!

This was really my only holiday gift knitting, which is unusual for me, but we just got so very busy.  They probably all have enough scarves and mittens and cowls from me at this point anyway.  They need time to wear them out before I hand over more.

DPN holders

I like to knit two socks at a time, to avoid second sock syndrome, the condition of getting one sock done and then wandering off and never finishing the second.  (There is a related syndrome for mittens and gloves.  I have a wonderful stranded mitten that has been without a partner for years.)

I use two sets of double pointed needles and knit each section on both before moving on to the next – first the both cuffs, then the legs, then heel flaps, etc.  This means that one unfinished sock is always stuffed in the sack on its five needles while I work on the other.  Needles get dislodged, or caught, and I found myself frequently having to thread them back into loops, trying to pick stitches back up before they run down the rows.

I bought some cardboard tubes that worked quite well for a while.  but they are starting to bend on the corners by the cutouts and catch on the yarn as I slide them.  Plus, they are fairly utilitarian – not much charm.

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Then I found a pattern by the Nome Knitter for cloth dpn holders.  I think I saw it on Pinterest first and then followed the link to the blog.  Plenty of room for charm because I could pick my own fabrics!

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I made two sets.  They are super simple.  Small amounts of fabric, some interfacing, some snaps.  A very quick project.

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My only real issue came when I discovered that the snap package came with only 7 snaps.  Why an odd number?!  I needed 8, and of course didn’t check the package carefully so I could only complete one of the sets.  I’ve already ordered some colorful plastic snaps online, so I will be making these again.  And lots of other things that need snaps – the bundle came with 100 of them.  I won’t go short again!

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I’m using the first set already, and it is working well.  No pulled out needles, and the holders stayed closed while tumbling in a bag in the bottom of my work tote.  I can see making them in lot of colors so I can match them to whatever yarn I’m using.

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(P.S. These are Village Socks, a free pattern by All Knit Up.  A simple, stretchy stitch pattern that is easily memorized.  The yarn is some Knit Picks Stroll bare sock yarn that I dyed in jars. A little splitty but springy yarn.)

 

A finish and a start

I finished the socks I started on our beach and eclipse week.

The yarn had about the simplest way of creating matching striped socks I’ve ever knit.  I just needed to divide the skein into two balls, and they marked the half way point with a segment of bright yellow. While it isn’t very soft, the dying was very accurate and the stripes turned out great.

There are some changes I’d make next time – and since I have another skein of this yarn, there will be a next time.  First, I need to go down a needle size from the size twos I used.  I had to restart and knit much tighter on the first sock leg, unable to find a yarn store on the coast to buy smaller needles.  But it is still a little more open than I like.

Next, I’d go up a few stitches in the legs to fit my calves better, and then back down to the pattern’s 54 for the foot.  Also, I got distracted during a faculty meeting last week and didn’t notice I was making the foot a tad bit too long.

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I’m making it sound like the socks were a disaster, but they really aren’t.  They turned out OK, just not great.  Next time!

My favorite way to knit socks is to have both of them going at the same time.  That way I never suffer from Second Sock Syndrome.  I do the cuffs for both, the legs, then both heels, etc.  It also helps to keep me from forgetting exactly what I did for each part if I make any modifications.

As soon as I finished that pair I cast on another pair using this simple pattern (and smaller needles). The yarn is a skein I dyed in jars during our last dyeing day.  The colors are pooling a bit but the colors aren’t wildly different from each other in value so I don’t think it is going to bother me.  And the Knit Picks Bare is a much softer yarn than the Regia.