Sunday, January 31, 2010

Fun in the House

SCF Funhouse Up Close

Reminds me of hot chile peppers, spicy salsa, and dancing to the Latin beats on a hot, sultry summer night. This is yarn that makes me want to break out and shake booty big time.

SCF Fun in the House

With those thoughts on my brain, you can just imagine - I had a blast making this yarn. Now that it's finished, it might knit up into a very joyful hat.

SCF Funhouse Yarn

Southern Cross Fibre Club, December 2009 - Funhouse.
Falkland wool, fabulous colors.
2 ply, 200 yards, around 11 wpi - but to be sure, I should measure again.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Uh Oh....

Uh Oh....

What's this? Don't ask. I have no idea how it ended up on my kitchen table.

Um...yea...we'll see...

I guess I really don't want to leave the house. Ever. Because I keep finding ways to amuse myself right here. And this latest addition is one that I thought about all last year. I have no idea what will come of this.

If a 10 year old can do it...

But if a 10 year old can do it...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

First Yarns in 2010

At last, some new yarns.

Alpine Binary Sunset 4

3 ply yarn made up from two different Club arrivals. Hello Yarn Fiber Club - Alpine - July 2009, 8 oz. Romney and Southern Cross Fibre Club - Binary Sunset - August 2009, 4 oz. Both are Romney, a wonderful long wool and softer than you would expect from that breed.

Alpine Binary Sunset 2

I've had this project in mind since last summer when I photographed the bumps and realized these would combine beautifully but was just learning the 3 ply. I felt like I needed to get a few other 3 plys under my belt before tackling this project because I wanted it to be as consistent as my skill would allow.

Alpine Binary Sunset 3

There's two skeins, total of 504 yards, 3 ply at somewhere between Fingering and DK weight. The plan is to use this yarn in a sweater of some sort, but I haven't worked out which one and how it will be used. Something to ponder over the next few months, and eventually it will speak.

Alpine Binary Sunset 5

To make these skeins as large as possible I purchased a Jumbo Flyer (bigger bobbins). Last Sunday morning I got up quite early and sat down at the wheel to tackle the ply. The Jumbo adds some drag to the wheel and I broke a sweat! It took four hours but I was so into what was happening I simply could not stop until I was through! Needless to say, I am pleased to pieces with the outcome.

And here's another, one that surprises me, as it's a bit of a departure from what I usually spin.

This is a nice lofty 2 ply yarn spun from about 6 oz. of Coopworth Roving purchased up at Rhinebeck in October. Coopworth is a wonderful longwool and this roving was unusual in that half was dyed deep Eggplant, the other half left Natural.

Maple Row Stock Farm Coopworth 3

I spun this with a low twist, and tried for bulkier singles. It's a bit thick n thin, but it worked out quite nicely once I plied it. I have about 130 yards here, and there's still at least 10 oz of Roving to spin.

Maple Row Stock Farm Coopworth 1

This is soft, bouncy, tactile yarn. I am pretty smitten with it and if knit into a hat, I believe it will be quite warm and wooly rustic in a way that makes my heart burst with joy.

Maple Row Stock Farm Coopworth 2

Friday, January 22, 2010

Random Goings On

Here at Chez Knithound, the hounds rule.

Chillin' Rudy

We often end up getting shoved off the sofas because they need more room.

Leggy Lola

Lucky for them they are so cute.


I've lived in NYC for over 20 years now. I've ridden the subways nearly every day since I arrived. I've become used to seeing rats scurrying down on the tracks. I usually enjoy watching them dart to and fro, and was relieved they were down there. And I am up here. On the platform. Away from them.

Until now. In the last two weeks I have seen rats ON the platform. THREE times, in three different stations. And not in the wee hours of the night. Like during rush hour with people waiting for trains. Rats running along the platform. So far, I've been lucky they were on the opposite platform and not mine. It would not be pretty had they crossed my path. Seriously? I'm giving thought to learning how to golf. Whack! In the meantime, I'm much warier going through the turnstiles. I keep seeing little shadows out of the corner of my eyes.

What is going on, people? I do worry about one of them deciding to take a ride. The idea of being trapped in a subway car with a rat skeeves me beyond belief.


After a four year hiatus, I started yoga again. Well, I went twice this week. I felt like the walking wounded after the first class. But after the second, I think I can actually feel the muscles in my lower back finally releasing the built up tension. Duh. I think I'm going to try to stick with it this time. It feels good.


I've been working on a Moroccan Chicken Stew recipe, tinkering with it to make it more flavorful. It has me so intrigued I want to buy a bigger Stew Pot. Like maybe a 7.25 qt. Le Creuset French Oven. I have one of the smaller Oval ones, and it's not big enough. This one stew has me obsessing over making more stews. I am in a serious stew frame of mind. I'll try to get you some pics and when I get that recipe the way I like it, I'll let you all try it out, too.

Chevron Love Mitt Kits

I'm knitting these days. Surprised? What I mean is, I'm knitting more than spinning. I have this urge to make a dent in the stash. That didn't stop me from picking up these two kit bags of yarn, destined for two pairs of mittens. Because the other thing I am obsessing about is learning how to knit stranded colorwork. I yearn to knit a Fair Isle type sweater someday. I want to tackle the Swedish Bohus style as well. And to get there, I will practice making mittens.

This is the year I learn stranded knitting.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Remembrance Vest

Remember that sweater vest I was knitting waaaaay back in November? You know, for Vestvember? Yah, the one to memorialize a decision and execution on a plan? Well hells bells, I finished it! A real garment. That I can wear! The only garment I started and finished for myself in 2009.

Memory Vest 9

The original idea was to make it for PhotoMan, but he deemed the pattern "too bulky". Crazy, right? It didn't take too much argument to switch plans and make it for me, all me. I was secretly thrilled. And here's one for the redemption files: once he saw the vest pieced together, he tried to convince me to let him have it. Thank God it had zero ease on him. Cuz, I wanted this one fer me, I didn't block it big. Heh.

Memory Vest 5

Somehow over the last year or so, I've lost weight. And neglected to measure myself in the interim. How in the world that happened without any attention on my part is a mystery. The result is just a tad boxy. It works fine, but the boxiness translates into a more casual look. If I were to knit this for myself again, I would go down a size or add some waist shaping.

Before I launch any more sweater projects, I need to take careful measurements. I'm thinking of doing that duct tape dress form thing that Wendy Bernard recommends in her book, "Custom Knits". Just need to get a ton of duct tape next time I'm in Home Depot and invite some friends over for a Duct Tape party. Woo hoo!

Memory Vest 7

So I actually finished this project back in early December and have worn it to work several times! For some reason I just couldn't get the camera, the wardrobe and the right light to converge for a good photo shoot. I finally gave up and grabbed a few shots last week before changing out of my work clothes.

Memory Vest 1

This pattern was written by Kirsten Kapur in loving memory of her father, Dr. G, who suffered the terrible Alzheimer's Disease. It felt good to make a contribution toward Alzheimer's research when purchasing the pattern. And Kirsten sure can write a pattern. This one was really easy to follow, fun to knit and makes a very attractive garment!

And the yarn, Classic Elite Skye Tweed. Yup. Discontinued. Dang, it's nice -- after a good soak. A bit dry during the knitting, a bath makes it bloom and soften up real nice. I get the feeling each time I wash it the sweater will get better and better. No signs of pilling, great stitch definition, this yarn was made for cable patterns. And gosh it's TWEED! I so love a good tweed. I'm currently stalking stashes on Ravelry; I'd love a pile of this yarn in gray.

While working on the vest, I raced across town to classes after work and spent four solid weekends in class. Lots of knitting time on the train, and between classes each weekend produced a really quick knit! Classes ended within days of finishing the project! The exam scheduling took a few more weeks to pull off. Wow, December was such a haze of illness and exhaustion. But it's done and I can move on to the next step.

Now, would you buy a house from this vest wearing woman?

Memory Vest 10

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

You Know You Want Some

My friend Sara started up an Etsy shop to sell her handmade spindles. Then she got a little crazy and started making fiber batts. I caved sometime before Christmas and bought one.

Knot My Day Job Gorgeous Red Batt

And then Sara, in her infinite generosity gave me a huge pillow of fluff in exchange for some fiber I gave her. I am not worthy. A blend of wool, alpaca, merino, bamboo, silk with a bit of bling, in a smoky gray blue. Oooh.

Knot My Day Job Gorgeous Gray Batt

I wish you could reach into your computer to sink your hands in this stuff. It is beyond amazing. She runs the fibers through her carder at least three times. This stuff is super blended and super soft. You need to get some of your own. You won't be sorry.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Long Journey, Fast Finish

Sometimes yarn sits in my stash for a long time, then migrates from bin storage to a shelf in my office. There it will sit while I ponder what it shall be. This yarn made that journey, arriving on my bookshelf way back in June.

Shell Socks Knitting Vintage Socks

During those months I hatched a plan to knit all the patterns from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush. You've seen some evidence that I am tackling that book in recent months. There's even a special set on Flickr reserved for the project. I've scoured that book from cover to cover, plotting my next moves after making the first pair last summer, the first time the bug bit.

Shell Socks I love these

It's strange. Sometimes the decision to pair up a yarn to a pattern is conscious, deliberate. In this case it was more intuitive. I decided on Child's First Sock in Shell Pattern (Ravelry link) and then blindly reached for the yarn on the shelf, mostly out of laziness. It was there! And it was meant to be.

Shell Socks Gusset Detail

This yarn. Oooh, oooh, I love this yarn - Spirit Trail Fiberworks, Alexandra, 100% Superwash Merino. Bouncy. Squishy. Slight color variation but not at all distracting. Purchased at Rhinebeck in 2008, I guess I needed all this time to instinctively match up the perfect pattern with this wonderful color, this blue/green that reminds me of the Aegean Sea. Not that I've actually been there, but it makes me want to go! I have seen waters this color in the Bahamas, actually.

Once on the needles, this pattern flew like the wind! I mean to tell you, it looks way more complicated than it is. Easy to memorize, there is a rhythm to the stitches and it just flows like...water.

Now, these may be the best fitting socks I've made yet. Here are two things I've learned I need to do to make a perfect fit: 1. Cast on over two needles for a nice stretchy edge. 2. Knit extra rows (in this case, 6 rows) into the heel flap, thus making a longer gusset. I don't know why I didn't think of the second one till these socks, but boy, am I glad I did.

Shell Socks Heel Flap Detail

I also love the toe shaping in this pattern, and might make it my go-to for all the patterns in the book, but I'm not committed to that idea yet. It's fun trying out the other variations that crop up from pattern to pattern.

Shell Socks Toe Detail

One of the many 'resolutions' I decided on, and one that I think I can stick to is this: if I am going to make any socks in 2010, they will be from this book. But I am getting ahead of myself. Because these socks happen to be the last thing I finished in 2009. In fact, they got in just under the wire on New Year's Eve!

Shell Socks Cast On Edge Detail

I'm already plotting the next pair...after I work up some mittens!! Because, BOY it's COLD out there!

Two Gentlemen in Fancy Socks

A few months ago, Brooklyn Bachelor Matthew noted the turn of the weather by saying the cooler air dictated wearing socks. I commented that sock weather is so much better with handmade socks! One thing led to another and before we knew it, we hatched a plan: one pair of handknit socks in exchange for a lovely dinner complete with drinks and dessert.

Gentlemen Pairs

Our plan got postponed with real life interruptions and now, the air is decidedly cooler. Like FREEZING, so YES, socks are definitely in order! Last night PhotoMan and I exchanged the socks for a lovely and delicious dinner with the Bachelor and OHS. Um, I might have had seconds on the Apple Crisp dessert, yes it was that yummy.

It's not often I repeat a knit project and to do two pairs of socks in a row in the same pattern speaks volumes for the genius that is Nancy Bush. Gentleman's Fancy Socks from Knitting Vintage Socks is so well written, so fun to knit and they look and feel great.

Fancy Gentlemen

PhotoMan's were knit using Zitron Trekking Pro Natura, a blend of 75% Wool, 25% Bamboo. I loved the pattern while making the green ones. So much so it was easy for me to choose the exact same pattern for the Bachelor, this time using Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in a special colorway called "Cookie's Deep Dark Secret". That Lorna's Laces? Yea, it's a win. It will be back in my rotation for sure.

It was a fun evening filled with good wine, conversational banter and laughs, and my offer to to teach OHS to knit stands. What could be better than a whole drawer of handknit socks?

Gentlemen's Fancy Socks