Wednesday, August 31, 2011

On The Fringe

The other day I finished the mystery blob.  As I mentioned in a previous post, half the fun with this project is the finishing.  Follow along as I share the process.

First of all the name of the mystery blob is Bad Oyster.

This pattern starts with a small number of stitches.  Notice the straight panel that runs from top to bottom.  Increases are placed on both sides of this 20-stitch panel, and the blob grows with every round. The pattern says to knit until the panel measures 18 inches or until you run out of yarn. I used the run out of yarn measurement.

Cast off all the stitches except the 20 panel stitches.  Next comes the fun part - steeking.    Note:  you need a sharp scissors for this step.

Take the 20 live stitches off the needle and find the strand between the 10th and 11th stitches - the middle.

Grab the handy dandy scissors and start to cut.

Snip, snip, snip.

All the way down the panel.

Making sure to stay on track and in the middle.

Snipping all the way to the end of the panel.

The blob is cut open.

Now it's time to unravel.

The panel strands are sorted out and tied to make fringe.

Then it's on to blocking.

The bath and blocking help straighten out the kinky fringe.

In no time Bad Oyster is ready to wear.

The yarn is Dirty Water DyeWorks Lillian, colorway Sea Glass.  Lillian is a soft, cushy 100% Superwash Merino yarn.  You may be wondering about the name of this pattern.  The design is all knit and no purl, hence the name Bad Oyster.

Yes, this will be another booth sample.

I love steeking.  It's loads of fun and has many practical applications. I chose this pattern for the booth because it's a great introduction to steeking. Somehow cutting into a shawlette seems less intimidating than cutting into a whole sweater.  If you've wanted to give steeking a whirl but have been terrified at the thought of cutting into your stitches, give it a try with this pattern.

I must admit at first I wasn't particularly drawn to the fringe.  One of my daughters says it has a cowboy look.

Maybe so.  But I've grown rather fond of it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Morning After

After a date with Irene yesterday, today dawned bright, clear and sunny.  Mother Nature flexed her muscle, and New England will be cleaning up for quite some time.  Western Massachusetts and Vermont were especially hard hit with severe flooding.  Towns are under water, and covered bridges have been washed away.  It's heartbreaking.  

I rode out the storm with knitting in hand.  The windows rattled, the house shook and I listened to a mysterious drip, drip, drip.  All the while knit, knit, knit.

The mysterious blue-green blob grew.

The end is in sight.

I'm almost out of yarn.  Then the real fun begins.  Don't worry - I'll post all the details.

There was more knitting over the weekend, and I even managed to finish a lingering UFO.  Those pictures will have to wait for another day.

I did put my knitting down long enough to do some baking.

Passing the time with peach pie.

Friday, August 26, 2011


New England is preparing for Hurricane Irene.  Rather than tempt the fates, I did my part to get ready for the storm.  

The first thing that people stock up on is water.

The water shelves are empty in many stores and stocking them is a full time job.

Someone convinced me I needed these.  Granted the half dozen flashlights we already have don't work and are beyond repair.

High-intensity and tactical.  I only hope that means they will generate enough light for me to see my knitting.

And I'm prepared with plenty of knitting.

Works currently in progress.

And perhaps something new.

I can't decide which color to use.

Before the summer slips away, I'm making an attempt at some family fun in the sun.  The other day we managed a beach day.  The weather was glorious - clear blue sky, nice breeze, low humidity.  In my walk along the beach I discovered my color inspiration for the week.

Glistening green with just a smidge of yellow.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Crazy Thoughts

It's hard to believe, but I'm caught up with my dyeing.  For the moment.  I expect another delivery of yarn any day now, and then I'll be back in the thick of it.

But this unplanned little break has me thinking all kinds of crazy thoughts.  Yarn bombing thoughts.  I need someone who's tall.  I may have to recruit a couple of kids for this project.  While these ideas are taking shape, I leave you with . . . 


~ Do you ever feel that the days are getting away from you?  That the weeks and months are just zipping by?  Well, that could be the case if you get carried away with the Unraveling Calendar.  Remember - days are meant to be unraveled one at a time.

~ If you ever had the feeling that your knitting was out of control, you may want to consider this.  It looks like the handknit version of a Blue Man Group performer.

~ Finally, these knitted snails are adorable.  And I love the instructions. "Basic knitting skills required; if you don't have these then get yourself along to a local knitting group."  I couldn't have said it better myself.

Monday, August 22, 2011

While Waiting

I practice multi-tasking on many levels.  Multi-tasking works well for me, and I wouldn't be able to accomplish nearly as much without it.  I'll admit that I'm not always successful.  My kids have stories of cooking food left unattended that stuck, boiled over or, worse yet, burned because I stepped out of the kitchen for "just a minute."  

Successful multi-tasking requires a series of mental gymnastics.  It's like solving a big puzzle - fitting the numerous pieces of my to-do list into the limited hours of the day.  Each and every day is different, and that's the real challenge.

Fall is knocking on the door and that means I'm gearing up for another round of shows.  There is a lot of dyeing in the works.

Winding and dyeing.  I hear the whirring of the winder in my sleep.

Once the dye pots are simmering, I find myself waiting.  Time to knit a few rows.  And my multi-tasking inner voice takes it one step further, "Why not knit a new booth sample while you're at it?"  Now knitting while dyeing requires a project that is next to mindless.  No lengthy instructions, no charts, no complicated techniques.  I don't want to become so engrossed in the knitting that I forget about the dye pots.  I definitely don't want them to boil over.  

The project must be easy to pick up and even easier to put down. While a garter stitch scarf would fit the bill, I need more than that for a booth sample.  And I think I found it.

It started out small.  Knit, knit, knit.

And grew into this.

There's still a lot of knitting to do which is good because I have a lot of dyeing to do.  The real fun with this project comes in the finishing. I'm not going to tell you what it is just yet, but I will give you a clue. It's not a hat.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Farm Fresh

Part of my summertime routine includes a weekly visit to the farmers' market.  At this point in the season there is so much produce available.  I know that in a few short weeks we'll have less to choose from, so I try to take advantage of as much as I can right now.

This was the first week for tomatillos.

With a few jalapeños thrown in for good measure.

The tomatoes are plentiful.  They are a staple this time of year.  I eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Tomatillos, jalapeños, tomatoes . . . this calls for pico de gallo.  If you're curious about pico de gallo, you can read about it here.  My pico de gallo recipe is similar except I also add tomatillos.

We have cantaloupe.

I love the outside texture of the melon - rough, yet intricately delicate. Almost lacy. This sock is patiently waiting for me to finish knitting the toe.

And plums.

Delicious purple-red.  This freshly wound ball of yarn is calling my name.  I'm trying to ignore it.

One of the farmers is selling pepper plants, and I check on them every week.  In the beginning they had tiny eggplant colored peppers.  I was smitten with them then but even more so now.  They are my color inspiration for the week.

From purple to red and in between.  One of these weeks I may bring a plant home with me.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It's A Process

I've decided to spruce up my booth for the fall shows and add some new samples, so the other day I started considering options.  I was sucked into the abyss of Ravelry and beyond looking at possible patterns.  I emerged hours later with a long list and more ideas than I can use in a lifetime.

There is a method to my madness.  After the list sits for a couple of days, I'll look it again and whittle it down to a short list.  Often projects that were front runners fall to the wayside, and something else rises to the top.  While the list marinates, I've been working on these.

Flatiron Clog Socks.  I made these socks before and loved them to death.  I loved them so much they wore out, and I was forced to retire them last winter.  I needed a replacement pair.

While the pattern list simmers on the back burner, I've been working contentedly round and round and round.

Creating columns of knits and purls.  Contemplating new project possibilities.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Just A Peek

I've been conducting an experiment.  It started with winding yarn.

A skein of yarn divided into sections.

After the winding I added some colors.

The finished product in a skein.

And later, the finished product in a ball.

My research is ongoing, but I see possibilites - possibilities for many color combinations and a lot of fun.

Friday, August 12, 2011


I've come to the end of the trail.

Hitchhiker is finished.

This delightful, asymmetrical garter stitch shawlette is perfect summertime knitting.

Relaxed and effortless.

Easy to pick up, hard to put down.

I would have kept going but there was only so much yarn.

The yarn is Dirty Water DyeWorks Bertha, colorway Tide Pool.

Tide Pool is a new colorway that sold out at Sock Summit.  It will be available soon on the website.

I found my color inspiration for the week hiding in the grass.

Ivory colored in a jungle of green.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Leaving A Trail

I should be chained to my desk.  I have hours and hours of computer work waiting for me.  And then there is the paperwork.  The piles are reaching mountainous proportions.  It seems almost sinful to accumulate so much paper in this paperless day and age.  

But it's summer, and I've given myself a few lazy days.  I haven't shirked all my duties and responsibilities.  There is food in the fridge, and the mounds of dirty laundry are manageable.  

Instead of sitting at my desk, I've been keeping company with a knitting project or two.  As evidence of what I've been up to, I've left a trail.

A trail of garter.  Row after row after row of glorious garter with a jagged edge thrown in for interest.  Hitchhiker.  I can't seem to stop - and won't until I run out of yarn.  Sadly the end is in sight.

Tomorrow I may be at my desk all day.  Today?  Just a few more rows of garter.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Rising Prices

The cost of living.  Like everyone else I've watched as prices climb steadily upward - everything from groceries to gas to my beloved coffee.  Increases happen on a weekly - sometimes daily - basis, and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight.

The same is true for yarn and fiber.  While we don't see increases on a weekly basis, prices have been inching up.  The world-wide supply of wool is at an all-time low while the demand continues to increase. This Wall Street Journal article gives a good explanation.  Price increases are especially noticeable with luxury fibers like silk and cashmere.  As one distributor recently told me they are called luxury for a reason. You have to pay more.

For some reason I don't mind paying a bit more for yarn, but I get grumpy when I have to pay more at the gas pump.  Why is that? They're both increases, yet one is easier to swallow than the other. 

I've been reading up on price increases and the market, especially as they relate to yarn and fiber.  In the process I came across this post that sheds some light on yarn price increases.  These price increases may actually make wool production profitable for the wool producers. For some of them it's been a tough go, and these price increases are much-needed.  After all we want them to make a profit and stay in business.  When I look at it that way, I don't mind paying the extra for yarn and fiber.

I'm coming off a weekend filled with knitting, audio books and dyeing prep.  There was also a lot of cooking and baking.

Baking with blueberries, of course.  You'll find the recipe for these blueberry scones here.

Friday, August 5, 2011


Now that Sock Summit is over, I feel I've earned some downtime. Never mind that the next round of shows will be starting in a few short weeks.  I just updated the website and blog with a list of fall events so I know the next round of chaos is just around the corner. But for now I can pause and savor the moment.

I've had an irresistible urge to knit everything.  I didn't have much knitting time at Sock Summit, and I was prepared for that.  A few rows here and there was all I could manage.

Now that I'm home, I have a case of pent-up startitis.  I could start half a dozen projects without batting an eye, but I've kept it to a minimum.

There is this cute little scarf.  I'm sure it will be a favorite.

And another project to keep it company.

The beginning of a pair of socks.

Then there are the projects I've been contemplating - sweaters, mittens, hats, more booth samples.  The list goes on and on and on.  I came away from Sock Summit full of ideas and inspiration.

It's blueberry season here in New England, and we've done our fair share of picking.

The berries are plentiful right now and picking is easy.

My color inspiration for the week is fresh from the berry bush.

From green to blue and in between.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Museum Tour: More News From Sock Summit

This post continues my report on Sock Summit.  One of the elements I loved about Sock Summit was the Sock Museum.  Socks and history are an interesting combination.  The Sock Museum was located in the middle of the marketplace and had examples of many different socks from several different countries and time periods. Come along for a photo tour of the Sock Museum.

This piece of art is a sock knit from wire.

While it's not practical to wear, it makes a great conversation piece.

Then there are the larger than life socks.

Since both of these are solo socks, I assume the knitter was struck with a case of second sock syndrome.

More from the sock-as-art category.



Before socks were knit, they were made from fabric.

These Medieval Cloth Hose are a replica.  Socks like these were worn by women during the Middle Ages.  They were held in place by a garter that was tied just above or below the knee.  Men wore a similar garment that was mid-thigh.  They were held in place by a string that attached to the underwear.

This is a replica of one of the first toe socks.

The technique used to create this Coptic Toe Sock is nalbinding, not knitting.  This sock construction dates from Egypt in the 4th - 5th centuries AD.  The separate toe was essential because these socks were worn with sandals.

Here is another example of socks worked in nalbinding.

These Uppsala Socks are made using the nalbinding Oslo stitch.  The heels have a circular spiral pattern.

These Tartan Socks are a reproduction of socks worn by the Scottish 92nd Regiment of the Gordon Regiment Highlanders.

They are the work of Anne Berk.  You can read more about them in Piecework Magazine, the January/February 2011 issue.

These socks are a reproduction of 17th Century Socks.

They include calf shaping and a purl pattern at the ankles known as clocks.

These socks were made for little feet.

Ivory Baby Socks with delicate lace and ribbon.

More socks for little feet.

Infant's Knitted Boottees are from a 1916 pattern.  They are designed to go over the knee and are tied in place with ribbon.

These socks were knit from a Woolcraft pattern published in 1940.

Lady's Ankle Socks.  Woolcraft was a booklet published in England during the 1930s and 40s.  It included patterns for practical and warm clothes.  The Beehive yarn used for these socks is from the same time period.

This yarn is also from the same era.

Bear Brand Bucilla Military Yarn was used to knit items for service men.  It cost 44 cents per skein.

These folk socks are irresistible.

The colorful Short Bosnian Socks are knit toe up and feature a triangular heel.

The Hook And Rose Turkish Socks were also knit toe up.



And another pair of socks using Turkish techniques and patterns.

The festive Willow Tree Anatolian Socks.

These socks were designed for extra warmth.

The Newfoundland Thrummed Socks have bits of wool roving knit into them for extra warmth.  The technique of thrumming originated in the Maritime Provinces and is used to create extra warm socks and mittens.

Traditional argyle meets skull and crossbones in Arrrgyle Socks.

This design is the work of Julia Farwell-Clay from Moth Heaven.

These fun socks were designed by Lucy Neatby and include a play on words.

The Almost Saintly Socks are holey, not holy.

And finally a clever sock construction from Elizabeth Zimmerman.

Moccasin Socks.

This sock is designed to last.

The heel and sole can easily be replaced.

And that concludes our tour of the Sock Summit Sock Museum.