Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Sockapalooza Stress

Honestly, this Sockapalooooooooza 4 business is a wee bit stressful. It's the first time that I've ever knit socks for feet I will never have contact with. Sure, cruising my intended giftee's blog and reading her supplied information for sock planning was fun. I found yarn and a color she loves in my stash, and I was off! -Or.... at least, I thought I was. I feel that I should admit that I've never joined a sock exchange before.

Choices: I thought I found the *perfect* yarn. My pal loves Cascade's Fixaxion-- Yes, the stuff that makes great socks, but can be a pain in the backside due to tension issues when knitting. I was hoping to make a lovely pair of lace socks for her.

After a few tries, though, sock worry started to creep in. I tried two lace patterns from Barbara Walker anthologies, I realized that the monochromatic yarn really was just too variegated for anything but the simplest of lace.
So, I thought I found something that worked. It was sort of a mis-mash of Waving Lace, Mermaid, and the Spiral Boot Sock. I thought it was coming out really well, up until my surrogate foot tried it on last night. I think it's too small!!!! Grr. Argh.

It's going to the frog pond tonight. I'm planning to knit the same sock after adding six stitches and will knit the Boot Sock heel flap/plain sole version instead of LN's Mermaid with patterned sole.

Methodology: Toe-up Socks

"the development of methods, to be applied within a discipline"

It's finally summer, and time for sock knitting. Sometimes nothing is better than casting on for a pair of toe-ups to utilize nearly every last bit of yarn that you have left for a pair of socks.

Like many of you, I've experimented and have tried a number of methods for toe-ups.

What I've tried and discarded:
Short-roe toe: By and large, this is not a bad option, although the knitter must graft 1/2 the number of sock stitches (usually via kitchner stitch). If the grafting isn't done well, a large lump occurs on the sole or instep of the sock. Uggh.

Middle Eastern cast-on or figure 8: I don't know about you, but I always have gaps that are just too large for my liking with these methods.

Toe-box: Works well, but can create a boxy toe. Also, whenever you pick up stitches from the cast-on row it takes a little work to seat them correctly to avoid twisted stitches. Or, you must use a provisional cast-on.

Don't let me stop you from using your favorite.
What do I do?
I guess you could call it RTT for short: Round Toe-ups with a Two-color (provisional) cast on. I'll walk you through it if you want to give it a go.
Select your sock yarn and a smooth, similar weight waste yarn in a different color.
Tie a loose knot.
Proceed with a long-tail two-color cast on. Cast on as many stitches as you like. This will be the final toe length for one-half of the sock. For a narrower sock toe, try eight to ten stitches. I usually use twelve to eighteen, depending upon finished desired sock width. I do this by creating the diamond shape in your left hand as you normally would for a long-tail cast on. Place the waste yarn in front over your thumb, and your working yarn in back. Using the right needle, pick up the waste yarn (down and up to the right), then go up and over the working yarn and pull left through the loop. Your working yarn has created one loop on the needle, and your waste yarn creates the bottom portion of the cast-on. Break waste yarn 2 to 3 inches from the end of your cast-on row.
Purl one row. Knit one row.
From the side without a knot, carefully remove the waste yarn from the cast-on row. Pick up the initial stitch with another needle. Proceed until all stitches have been picked up. (Do not untie knot). Knit the stitches you have just picked up. If using DPNs, use two across this row. Once you have knit the last stitch, remove your knot and the waste yarn.
Increase rows: From now on you will knit in the round. Starting at the longer needle side (your working yarn is in place).
Increase Rows 1 & 2: KFB (Knit into front and back of stitch), knit until you have two stitches left on the longer needle side, KFB, K1. Needles 2 and 3: increase one (MI or KFB instead of knitting first stitch), knit until you have two stiches left. KFB. 4 stitches increased, two per side.
Increase Row 3: Knit
Increase Row 4: Repeat row 1.
Repeat rows 3 and 4 until you are eight stitches away from your final desired stitch count.
Increase Rows 5 and 6: Knit
Increase Row 7: Repeat row 1.
Increase Rows 8,9, & 10: Knit
Increase Row 11: Repeat row 1.
Your sock should now look something like this:
Continue by knitting each round.
Here's what the round toe looks like:

Enjoy! If you try it out, let me know what you think.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Paco update & Summer Goals Contest

Thanks for all of your well-wishes for Paco. Heartworm treatment is truly barbaric and lead to a tough week. Two arsenic-compound shots created a just-back-from-chemotherapy stupor of pain for my little guy. Paco finally started to act like his regular self this weekend. I’m starting to have a rough time keeping him from running around the house! Toby remains at his grandparent’s home, where I hear that he’s having a great time.

Onto fun news:

Ali at Skeins Her Way is having a summer contest. You've got a few days to enter by talking about your summer goals. Go for it!

Summer 2007 Knitting Goals ( 6/1/07 through 9/1/07)

1. Start an online store at for handpainted yarn.
2. Socks: Finish three pairs of previously started socks. Finish three sock designs.
3. Finish the Lotus Blossom Tank.
4. Don’t buy any more yarn! (to keep) Only buy yarn to dye and sell.

EDIT: How could I forget???

5. Finish Lizard Ridge!!!

Why the quiet blog over the past week? Well, two reasons:
1. Devote time to Paco.
2. My camera left me. That is, the camera I borrowed from my brother left me! He needed it on 5/18, and I knew that it wouldn’t be coming back. So, this weekend I zoomed around town looking for deals—and I found a Cannon Powershot Elph SD600 for $159.00. Love it. Look for new pictures tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Vet Visit

Work phone call with bad news.

Paco has Heartworm.

He'll be staying at the Dog hospital for the next few days in a controlled, motionless, quiet, environment.

After that, he'll need to remain motionless (Ha!) for an extended period of time at home. Paco is an incredibly active dog.

I think I'll need to find a surrogate home for Toby for a short period of time-- perhaps a visit to his doggy grandparents and cousin "running stupid" Max? (Max is a lab. He's a lovely dog, but not the brightest dog in the pack.)

I stopped giving them heartworm treatment when the weather was cool-- but the first frost was a few weeks away. Clearly this was a bad choice.

Have you ever dealt with this? Any advice?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Summer Sky

Instead of selling handpainted yarn here, I'm thinking about starting an Esty shop.
I've been toying with the name Curly Tail Yarns.

Do you have a better store name idea? Leave a comment below. If I create an Etsy store with the name you've come up with by June 4th, I'll send one of these to you:

Summer Sky
Superwash Blue Faced Leicester, 3-ply yarn. 440 yards/ skein.
(2 available skeins)

BFL, "the poor man's cashmere", softens dramatically and continues to do so after each wash. BFL wool has a longer fiber staple length than merino, thus creates a resilient yarn. A skein should make a great pair of socks or a lovely shawl. US size 0 to 1.5 recommended for socks, or US 4-6 for a shawl.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Solveig & Suzanna

Oh, yes. I succumbed. I've been thinking about it for over a year, and once Connie gave me a copy of Wendy Keele's Poems of Color a month ago, I couldn't resist. Such a wee little box arrived at my home via registered mail...
...filled with gorgeous possibilities. Since I need "practice", I've decided to not even tempt myself by opening up the package to run my fingers through the gorgeous 50 angora/50 merino yarn.

I will admit to petting the color card, though.

The box contained all necessary items (sans needles and markers) for the "Large Lace Collar" Jacket kit from Solveig in Sweden. Also known as the "Large Collar" in Poems of Color. The pattern has been translated by Susanna from Swedish to English, and both versions come with the kit.

What's the big deal? Well, the "Large Collar" pattern in Poems of Color has absolutely no yoke/collar patterning on the back like the original Bohus design.

You can view available kits here:

Send an email for prices & to place an order at
Solveig was great to work with-- and she mentioned that "The Wild Apple" will be available soon!

Project begin date: December 2007?

Llama Magic

Shepherd's Harvest (a sheep and wool festival in Lake Elmo, MN) was great! Last year we were plagued with nasty, cold thunderstorms that hammered and shook metal buildings. The weather couldn't have been more cooperative and was absolutely gorgeous-- and people were out in droves.

Stylish "poodle" cuts.
Every animal I saw was happily chomping or crooning away. Llama magic, indeed! Munching llamas are completely adorable. Their expressions constantly change, and there's a circular motion to their chewing. Very funny, playful-- and no spitting occured!

There was roving, top, processed yarn, knitted items, patterns, notions, and lots of food for sale. I guess I couldn't be bothered with the rest. (or... I was too busy talking and buying!) You'll just have to live with the llama pics. Shepherd's Harvest was truly great this year.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


Lizard Ridge slowly progresses.... again. Three final row squares have been knit, three squares remain for the entire blanket.

Tulip or Alien?

A few weeks ago Renee said, "Oh! Look at all the tulips." when looking at the Lotus Blossom Tank's Lace. I thought this was quite lovely.

The following week Deepa couldn't stop seeing alien faces. Now all I see are alien heads swimming on waves. Thanks, my friend. Aliens. You know how I love em'.... (ahem. not a fan) Although, sock monkey lace would certainly take the prize.

Sock Monkeys scare me. As do clowns. I'm not afraid to admit it, either. If you ask why, I'll have to go on an enormous rant about my (recently deceased) evil Step-grandmother, and I can assure you that you don't want to hear it!

Ms. Walker calls the pattern 'Lotus Lace' in either her first or second treasury. Earlier I noticed that Deb thought the pattern looked like thistles. Then she found a little proof through Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Volume One, Knit and Purl.
Perhaps it's really just like clouds. Dear readers, what do you see?

LBT Progress report: the front is done, and I'm past the armhole shaping on the back. I should finish the tank in just a few days' time. I'm still loving the yarn. The pattern is pretty fabulous as is. I'm excited to try Japanese Short Rows to shape the straps/upper back. I've made a few modifications here and there-- but I'd recommend it. It's a great tank.

I've been thinking about knitting another next year-- using a different lace and eyelets just above for a ribbon.


Anyone else notice the same when you saw the Summer 07 cover? It's certainly at least 10% different... the parameter for 'original' design has been met.


Monday, May 7, 2007

Back in Print

Good news!

Maria Ehlbacher's Bavarian Stitch anthology Uberlieferte Strickmuster aus dem Steirischen Ennstal (Traditional Knitting Patterns from the Enns Valley of Styria) is back in print-- and for a smaller price than I paid from Northern European Ebay sellers!

Thanks to Holly for the update.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007


Bohus! bohus, bohus, bohus.

Kimmet Croft didn't show at MN's Yarn Over this year. Last week I sent an email about a hat kit. You know, for the Swan pattern. No response. Anyone know if they're still in production?

So... I started looking through my stash. It's completely the wrong gauge, but should serve it's purpose: practice for a much, much larger project!

p.s. Connie, you're fabulous.

Little Project, Little Problem

This weekend I quickly whipped up a Miss Dashwood. Yep, pretty cute, I thought. Up until I realized that it barely fit Paco-- even with his wears folded back. If you couldn't tell, he's not a fan of this look. Can you see the "I'm cute enough as it is!" look in his eyes?

I realized that I mis-read (re: didn't read) the pattern and skipped over the rows of stockinette post-bobble action. I skipped on and started decreasing. Finally, a hat appeared that is much too large for Paco, and may actually fit a wee babe's head one day. Tonight I'll knit up the earflaps and ties. Perhaps a good blocking session would help as well.

Yarn from stash: Malabrigo, Amorosa (?) colorway.