Monday, December 21, 2009

A merry Christmas
a peaceful New Year to all my readers.
Ein frohes Weihnachtsfest
einen guten Rutsch ins Neue Jahr.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Socks No. 29 and 30

Well, the last two pair of Christmas assignment socks are done and with their owner. They are not much to look at, just plain old socks, but the Noro sock yarn brought up all kinds of feelings. The reminder of my grandmother's scratchy hand knit stockings was only the beginning. Deep down it brought up memories of utter desperation. Of being habitually cold. Of being so hungry that my tummy hurt. Of my mother crying because she couldn't provide enough food for me. Of being scared that she was going to die and leave me alone because then we mistook panic attacks for heart problems. So much misery for so many, and it is still going on throughout the world.

Despite all, knit on merrily.

Friday, December 18, 2009

I hate those meeces to pieces

This is for those of us who are old enough to remember Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks the cat. The cartoon was part of the Huckleberry Hound series. (Thanks Wikipedia.) Mr. Jinks was headstrong but too dense to pose any real harm to Pixie and Dixie, two enterprising mice. Well, I am just as ineffectual with our house guests, aka mice, and I'm often heard to mutter Mr. Jinx's nonsensical saying, "I hate those meeces to pieces." Of course, our two mouse hunters in residence are no better than I am in catching the little rascals. And here is the result of their latest handiwork. Did they attack items knitted from Acrylic yarn? Of course not; the miscreants feathered their beds with the most expensive items knitted with hand-spun, hand-dyed yarns.

This also reminds me of another tale from about thirty years ago when I worked in a camp in Northern New Jersey. While camp management did not believe in chemical warfare against four legged critters, we did put up poison in small bags in the infirmary to control the mice population. But again humanity was totally ineffectual. The resident mice decided to take the little bags and literally shove them off the beams and bombard sick children with them. So we protected the kids with mosquito nets and left the mice alone.

Yes, "I hate these meeces to pieces" but they are part of living in the woods. And I found a use for those socks where the mice left the leg portion ungnawed. Felt lightly, cut off foot and use as wrist warmers.

Knit on merrily!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Finally lace again

A foot of snow, heavy snow, not the fluffy lake effect snow, is what we've ended up with today. It's still snowing outside, some of the trees are bent over from the heavy snow, but the snow plow guy finally showed up. Around here, finding a reliable snow removal service is as rare as finding sunshine between October and April. The joy of backwoods living. But enough griping and onto knitting.

I have finally picked up lace again. (Okay, so I still have to finish one pair of consignment men's socks with the dreaded Noro yarn.) Each year there is a Swedish knit-along for a scarf/shawl with a new pattern given from December 1 through December 24. This is the first year I have actually knitted the scarf instead of just storing the pattern. The pattern is both in Swedish and English. I won't attempt to copy the knit shops name, but if you are interested click on the link here. The original scarf is knit with Musk ox. I am using Poems Sock Yarn and 3.75 mm needles. I picked up the yarn at a going out of business sale. The original price was US $18.75 per 100 grams. I got it for either 50% or 60% off. I would not pay the full price for the yarn. The yarn is similar to Noro sock yarn, but is a little bit softer and the thin spots aren't quite as thin as in Noro. It does have a "few" thick spots, but hasn't detracted from the scarf. So far, I have not detected any pattern in the striping. It seems to change randomly from beginning to the end of the ball. I would not knit socks with this yarn, ever. First of all, one could never get two matching socks and second, like the Noro, I don't think the yarn would wear well if knit up into socks. So here are a sampling of the photos I was able to take. Again, the weather is not cooperating for good photos. But since this is Michigan after all, what I have will have to do.

Clues 1 - 9

Clue 4 Detail

Clue 9 detail

Clue 5 Detail
Knit on merrily!

Monday, November 30, 2009

And more socks...

It was a dismal day for taking photos; the sky was gray and there was not enough light in the house for good pics, but, nevertheless, here they are:

Let me introduce socks no. 26, 27, and 28 for the 52 pairs of sock challenge.

Knit with Regia Cotton. Leg is a simple k1, p1 for 6 rows, then 1 purl row, followed by 6 rows of p1, k1.

Knit with Lana Grossa Meilenweit, Fantasy yarn. In my opinion higher quality yarns with similar patterns are available.

Regia Kaffee Fasset. Love the colors; love the yarn.
Knit on merrily!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Socks #23, 24 and 25 in the 52 socks in 52 weeks series

Three more pairs of the consignment socks are finished. These are all men's sizes, 10-1/2, 11 (I think) and 12W. That's a lot of stitches in comparison to the average woman's sock.

Regia Line Steps Yarn, Beaded Rib Stitch from Sensational Knitted Socks

Plymouth Sockotta, Garter Rib Stitch from Sensational Knitted Socks

Colinette Cadenza yarn; pattern is a no longer published one by Monika Eckert. This has become my favorite men's sock pattern.
Knit on merrily!

The secret has been revealed!

After all these many years, I think I finally figured out where my Oma got the wool for the scratchy stockings she knit for me between 1946 and 1948. From Japan! I'm only kidding. I am sure she was recycling at that time. But Noro's sock yarn could be a good twin for the yearn. I had never knit with Noro before since I always felt that it was too expensive for the quality. I had heard horror stories about knots, color sequences being off after the knot occurred, the evenness of the yarn, etc. Yet people bought it for the color. The colors are lovely, but... Knitter's Review has an excellent review of the yarn. She says it much better than I can, but I'll continue my crumbling.

The yarn's twist is not set properly; it is highly energized. As I knit with the yarn it curled back on itself as if I was making a cord the old fashioned way. (Memories of childhood: Two people with 2 pencils and several wraps of yarn around the pencils, twirling in the opposite way and then bringing the two ends together.) The knitted fabric skews due to the energized twist, and it is a single ply. But, most of all, the yarn has thin-thin spots, thin spots, and thick spots. Not at all favorable for sock knitting.

I decided to make a resolable sock by using Regia sock yarn for the sole, heels and toes, although the top of the socks will most likely wear out first. I have never been able to make the join between the bottom and the top of the sock to my satisfaction, but then I am a wee bit picky.

So here is my very first attempt at knitting with Noro sock yarn. The second sock will follow soon.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A sunny day in October

It was a beautiful sunny October day today. Unusual for this time of year since we live close to the Lake and overcast is the norm starting some time in October until March or April. So I took a walk around the property with camera in hand. Here is what I found.

The oak leaves turned late this year, but are more colorful than in previous years. This view is toward the street showing the end of the drive way.

This oak sapling looks like it will definitely grow into a mighty oak some day. This view is from the back of the house.

And, of course, where there is sun, there are the Japanese beetles.

And if you look closely you can see the horns on this young buck which came to visit the other day.

Of course mushrooms are part of the scenery around here. This is the common puff ball. Have you ever eaten one? As long as they are very young, they are quite good eating. Their taste is somewhat nutty and buttery.

Off hand this looks like an American Ceasar's mushroom since they are usually found where oak trees grow. The American Ceasar's mushroom is edible, but I didn't try them since I was unable to positively identify them.

Square No. 4

Another square has been finished. The color combination is a bit on the ugly side, but, hopefully, they will blend into the whole afghan.

Knit on Merrily!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Kollage Double Pointed Needles

The jury is still outstanding on the Kollage square double pointed needles I bought at a nearby going-out-of business yarn store. They were 60% off the regular price. The needles are 2.25 mm thick and 7" long. I like how they fit into my hands, but would prefer them to be 8" long. The extra length may prevent them from stabbing my hands as I knit with them. The one major drawback are the sharp points. They are more wicked than evil is! I found that since I knit "Continental", I use my left thumb to give the needle a bit extra oomph when moving a purl stitch from the left to the right needle. After knitting this size 10-1/2 foot sock with plenty of purl stitches in the pattern, my left thumb feels like having pricked myself repeatedly with a lancet when testing my blood sugar. Another feature on the plus side is that they are quite sturdy and so far have not bent like bamboo needles do. The needles do not split the yarn despite the pointed needles and the stitches remain on the needles nicely, yet slide along for knitting. But the points need major work.
The next yarn to be tested with the needles is Bamboo and Tofutsie.
Knit on Merrily!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Square No. 3

Yippee! Square no. 3 of the Christmas afghan is done. It's going to be a long winding road for this project. Only 21 to go.
Knit on Merrily!

Socks No. 21 and 22 completed!

Two more pairs of socks of the consignment are done. The men's socks are US size 12. I have never seen such a large foot. Since the customer wanted it knit in Colinette Cadenza yarn, a 100% Merino, DK weight, I used an afterthought heel (peasant heel). The yarn is quite soft and most likely will not wear well.
The second pair was knit with ON Line Supersock yarn, Holiday Color. While it knit much better than the previous ON Line sock yarn, it still had knots in it and the yarn's color striping was not even throughout the ball of yarn. It took quite a bit of finagling to come even close on both socks.
The pattern is Braided Gem Socks from Knitting with Handpainted Yarn, an extremely easy pattern with big results.

Knit on Merrily!

The ubiquitous Fall photo

Fall colors are late this year. This photo was taken last Sunday in Seaton Creek Campground of the Manistee National Forest.

Friday, October 16, 2009

An afghan for Christmas

My middle child ordered an "afghan or coverlet" for Christmas. I don't know whether or not I'll be able to finish it in time, but will certainly try. I dislike knitting afghans, or crocheting them for that matter. I have a number of squares laying around the house, all different sizes, some from the Great American Afghan booklet, and I doubt whether or not they'll ever end up in a finished afghan.

On some of the German sock lists and blogs I follow, folks have been knitting afghans out of left over sock yarn. Some one posted the instructions on her blog and, of course, I promptly forgot to copy the blog address. That's the reason for not being able to credit her. It is simply the granny dishcloth knit with two strands of sock yarn. Start with 3 stitches, increase 1 stitch by making a yarn over at the beginning of each row until 90 stitches are on the needle and then decrease back to 3 stitches and finish off by slipping one stitch, knitting 2 together and passing slipped stitch over. Voila! one square done.

I have never had good luck with the granny dishcloths; the edges never looked good enough as far as I was concerned. So this time around, I experimented a bit and finally came up with the right combination. The instructions state to knit the yarn over through the back loop on the way back. This is what the patch looks like when doing this:

Check the difference between the bottom edge and the side edge. The bottom edge shows the yarn over knit simply through the back loop on the return row, while the side edge shows how the edge looks on the yarn-over side.

Another view of the problem. It's OK for a dish cloth, but not for an afghan for daughter and her dear husband.

The next step was to twist the yarn-over before knitting into it. This took care of the problem, but involved an extra step to manipulate the stitch. So here is what I came up with. Instead of making the yarn-over from front to back, I make it from back to front. Then on the return row, I put the tip of the needle into the front leg of the yarn-over, from left to right, twisting the yarn over. This allows me to knit the stitch in one operation, rather than lifting the yarn-over from the needle and manually twisting it before knitting. Leave it up to a lazy person to spend time on such a minor thing. But, I think, it will save me time knitting 24 patches. (These instructions are for Continental knitting. English knitters are on their own.)

And here is the result:

Now doesn't that look much better? Both sides now are the same.

And here is a pic of the second patch finished so far.

The third patch has been started, but I need to finish up a pair of socks first.

Knit on, merrily!

Pair #20

Pair no. 20 of the 52 pairs is finished and no. 21 is also progressing well. The ON Line yarn, Holiday Color, did not impress me much. Although it is the usual 75% wool and 25% Nylon, the yarn is not very soft even after washing and sloshing with hair softener. The striping of the yarn was not very even and it did not knit up as nicely as other sock yarns. The pattern is a simple K3, P1 pattern, just enough to break up the loudness of the stripes.
Knit on merrily!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pair #19

After a brief hiatus, pair no. 19 for the 52 pair sock plunge is done. These are contract socks. A lady whom I have yet to meet (my daughter did at the West Branch, Mich. Fiber Festival), had big plans for knitting socks for her family. Unfortunately, she developed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and cannot knit them. She sent me a whole box of sock yarn with desired sizes. Since my own and family sock larder is fairly full, and I have enough socks to give to charity, I decided to take on the challenge. So, here is the first pair, with the second pair started.

The socks are knit with Berroco Sox yarn, 9" foot and leg length.

The second pair are being knit with ON line Supersocke 100, Holiday Color, yarn. The yarn is fairly bright and a simple pattern of k2, p1, seems to tone it down a bit.

Knit on merrily.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Indulge me, please. I was transferring old photos the other day from one computer to another and to off-line storage. Since I am wandering aimlessly through knitting land, I thought I'd share a few of my favorites. All of them have personal meaning for me.

I love the shades of the ferns on the stones in this picture. Purely accidental and not due to any photo composing skills on my part.

Oxford Lake, Newaygo County, Michigan. Such a serene setting and such a grim history. The body of a murdered female was found in the lake. Since the lake is on Federal land, the perpetrator was tried in Federal court and sentenced to death. The woman's child has never been found. When I was still working at the prison reception center for youthful offenders, I performed the psychological evaluation of the nephew of the perpetrator. He was quite proud of his uncle. The family that commits crimes together stays together?

Fall has arrived in Michigan.

Isn't he cute? But watch out he spits too.

Peggy while she was still alive kissing her llamas.

Storm clouds are accumulating over Big Twin Lake, Newaygo County, Michigan.

View of Big Twin Lake, Newaygo County, Michigan, after the storm has passed. The photo was taken from my former cottage on the lake.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Travelling in Knitting Land

Diane asked if I was yet tired of knitting socks. Since I am mostly a process knitter (I like knitting for the sake of knitting), knitting only socks is not a problem. It's still one stitch after another, with some interesting and for me new patterns thrown in. However, about once a year I seem to be aimlessly wandering in Knitting Land, not really being satisfied with much of anything. That's when dishcloths come into play. They satisfy my need for process (knitting) and for result (getting something done quickly). Additionally, they are useful items which can be put to use quickly or stashed away for quick gifts.

This is my third year for belonging to the Yahoo group Holiday Mystery Gifts. A wealth of patterns are offered up for the knitter and crocheter, many more than can be knit between the end of September and Christmas. The group usually gets active in September and fizzles down to almost no traffic after the holidays, with an occasional afghan square thrown in during the year. Some of the patterns are true mysteries while others are not. While the group does not officially start with its Holiday knitting until September 22, a pattern for a big and matching smaller coasters was posted today. I pulled out some needles (not the size that was recommended, of course), a ball of Peaches 'n Cream and a wandering I went, and here is the result.
Knit on merrily!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Another pair of socks has been started.

The pattern is by Monika Eckert from her Klabauter-goes-socks subscription and, as often with Moni's patterns, challenged my skills even after 60 some years of knitting. The yarn is Plymouth's Rockin' Sox in a green/blue (almost purple) shade. The yarn contains some Bamboo which gives it a nice shine. Of course, the camera didn't pick it up. But here is a photo of the first sock.

The pattern is named "Bad Toelz" after a Bavarian town in Germany and reflects the ornate architecture of the spa. I found this photograph on Wikipedia.

Knit on merrily.