This is not a dead blog.

Yes, I am still here, believe it or not.  Until tonight, I hadn't actually sat down with intentions of clicking through anything on the computer since the day before Thanksgiving... not even email!

As far as knitting blog-catch-up, I worked on the second sock from Hubby's "pair" of Hedgerow Socks whilst digesting Thanksgiving dinner, then Thanksgiving lunch, then another Thanksgiving lunch.  Because I don't have a stitch of energy left in my feet today to go grab the camera from my purse, I'll just let you know that I'm about 5" down the tube of the sock.  Go me for pushing through and making this a pair of socks, huh?

Another new project is quite a terrifying one indeed.  I just recently purchased a beautiful pattern that I discovered during a "Christmas stocking" search on dear ol' Ravelry.com.  The pattern is named Baby's First Christmas Stocking and it's part of a little family of patterns: A Family Portrait.  I chose the baby pattern because I just liked the flower/snowflake overall design.  It's a perk that this comes as a collection of three different-yet-similar stocking patterns.  And the designer, 2sticks, is totally bright, friendly, and encouraging.  Why encouraging?  Because she kindly reassured me that I could totally...
... knit with more than one color at once...
... learn the Turkish cast-on technique...
... start these stockings from the toe and work up from there...
... annnnnd...
... follow a chart pattern.

Those are all new things for me!  Woohoo for learning more new knitting stuff!!!

If 2sticks's predictions are right, these two stockings should be a breeze.  I'll keep y'all filled in on the project, and on my progress, and let you know if 2sticks is indeed correct.  :)


We're blocking over here!

I've got the Pretty in Pink "Little Black Dress" pattern finished as much as it can be finished up to the blocking point. It's being blocked right now. Once it is set and dry, all I'll have left is to join the two pieces and stitch the little beads around the neck. I'm torn between pearls and beads. I've got both to choose from, and they would both make for sweet neckline adornments. Ah, choices!

Until I knitted my first sweater, Desert Rose, I never even knew about blocking. I wasn't aware there was anything to do with a knitted garment once it was finished except put it on and wear it proudly. It wasn't until I reviewed my pattern for that sweater for any lost bits of finishing tips (weaving in ends of yarn, finishing neckline, etc) that I saw these words: "Be sure to block your new sweater before you wear it!" I had no idea what "block your sweater" meant until I looked it up on Ravelry. WHAT! This was a big step, and once it was explained to me, I really understood its importance. After all, why would I spend so much time, effort, and cash on a beautiful sweater if I wasn't going to treat it well or care for it properly?

Because I was eager to start the blocking process as soon as I understood what it was, I didn't bother going out to a craft store or buying any blocking detergent online. I went straight for our pup's shampoo. It was soap-free, and gentle enough to not hurt her eyes when we washed her little face with it. And who wouldn't welcome a gentle rosemary-lavender scent coming from their sweater?

I tried to document everything as I blocked the Pretty In Pink pup sweater this morning. So, here's the blocking process according to me.

Because I work at a quilt shop that carries Soak brand detergent for crafters, I thought ahead and purchased a small sample of a scent that enticed me. As it turns out, it was a very subtle and neutral scent which I really like--nothing overwhelming or too perfume-y.

First, run your water in a clean sink and add in just enough detergent to suds it up a little bit.  I use hot water, as hot as my hands can handle, just because I have this idea in my head that it will make the stitches more permanent and help to set them a little better.

Once you've got enough water in the sink to put your knitted piece in and be able to move it around plenty, go for it.

Don't be afraid to get your wool (or any other) fibers totally soaked.  The other part of the blocking process will insure that your piece doesn't shrink.  Squish it around in the water, making sure you get it really good and wet all over.  This process will a) set your stitches into place by teaching them with the washing/drying process that this is where they belong.  It'll also release any extra pigment that's still holding on.  See how my water turned slightly pink?

Once you think you've squished it and swished it around in the sudsy water enough, rinse it out.  VERY WELL.  Be sure to get every stitch and every corner of both sides.

Once you're done rinsing, it's time to get all the excess water out.  You want to squeeze.  DO NOT WRING IT OUT!!!  If you wring out the water, you'll also be stretching some stitches out while compressing other stitches, and that'll cause your finished knitted work to be distorted and all geeked up.  I put this pup sweater in a ball in my hand and pressed down against the sink so that the water would just go straight down the drain.

Now it's time for drying!  I block all my knitted work on the guest bed in our spare bedroom.  Normally, I put  a couple of towels on the mattress first and then pin the piece on top, just to keep the mattress fresh from any damp build-up grossness.  Because I was currently doing a load of laundry including all of our towels, I just went for it today without any towel buffer.

Lay the piece out flat, right side up, and start pinning with straight pins (the same ones you'd use with your sewing machine).  I try to pin about every 4 stitches, or about every 1/2" to be sure all the edges stay straight. What you don't want to happen is for the yarn to shrink up in between pins, because you'll be left with a scalloped edge effect.

Be sure to keep your curious, attention-seeking pup far away from any pointy pins!

I usually let my blocked pieces dry for about 12 hours.  That way, I know the fibers are very dry, and the stitches are very set in place.  Once everything is dry, you can take out all the pins (be sure to get them all!) and do any finishing work--putting together any pieces that were knitted separately (like this project), finishing any edges, or weaving in any ends (which I always do before blocking, so that they stay in place as well).  You're done!  You've got a piece of art that will last for a long, long time.  Cherish it!


Pretty In Pink

I just (as in, 10 seconds ago) cast on my 25 sts for my pup's sister's Christmas gift. Little Shiloh, aka Shi (pictured below as her sleepy little self) is all girl, and when I saw this precious Little Black Dress pattern on Ravelry, I had to start knitting it immediately!

It looks like a relatively quick and easy knit, so it should be finished by this weekend when I plan to begin knitting my mom's Christmas gift (yarn has been ordered, and I'm wiggling in my seat just waiting to see it in person on my front doorstep). I even found some cute little plum colored beads to line the neck of the pup sweater, as the patternmaker did with pearls. I can't wait to see little Shiloh dancing around with these ruffles on her booty!


Repurposing my yarn, one skein at a time

So, I've got quite a few good many yards of perfectly good kiwi-greenesque yarn. I really liked the dense quality and soft touch of Lion Brand's Cotton Ease yarn. I bought enough to make this sweater, and was so excited about it I could hardly contain my silly knitter self.

As time would tell, there was a pretty doom-and-gloom outcome in the making of this sweater--it never happened! As a novice sweater knitter, I discovered a major hitch in the pattern for this sweater (only because there weren't enough stitches to add in the separately-made sleeves) and pursued the writer of the pattern for assistance. Her email box was full. After leaving a few messages on her not-so-frequently-updated blog, I have yet to read a response from her on the issue and have since given up hope on ever finishing the once-50%-complete, delightfully-happy-looking project. *sigh.* I had even given her a name (Toula, as in, Toula from the movie My Big, Fat Greek Wedding), and had a dream about wearing her, tall and proud. *double sigh.*

Since setting aside my half-made, never-to-be-finished Toula, I set out to creating new things out of her guts. One simple little project I just finished last week didn't use too much yarn at all, but it was a quick and satisfyingly useful little project. I made a little purse pouch, convenient for carrying pens and other writing utensils, a small supply of mid-day touch-up makeup supplies, or other girly... necessities.


Sock it to me!

Okay, okay.

So, I came into Socktoberfest at 120 miles an hour with no time to blink. And then things got pretty busy.

We bought this:

Because of that, this happened:

Then, we went here...

...for this:

Even though it's not technically the end of Socktoberfest, it is pretty late into the 27th out of 31 days. That means it's pretty much over. Boo, hiss! I'm preparing for the inevitable ending of October to only have this for show:

But hey, this is my first ever sock. And it turned out perfectly! I am quite proud of myself.

And little miss Vespa thinks this is a very fine sock, indeed. (There should be a "Cutest Dog of the Week" awarded over there at Ravelry, dontchathink? Vespa could totally be a winner.)

It wasn't the pair of socks for Hub and a pair of socks for myself, but it's more than I accomplished last year (which was nothing at all, because I didn't know Socktoberfest existed). Here's to accomplishment!



That's right. I had to frog some of Hubster's sock. Not all of it, but enough to set me back a day. And that's enough to make me angry with myself. I mean, who turns the heel of a sock without making the proper decreases? I picked up and integrated the heel stitches (you know, the stitches you slip when you're making the heel) and just started knitting around again like a fool, not realizing that just because the heel was attached to the rest of the sock, that doesn't mean it's going to be the shape of a Husband's foot. After I knitted about 3 inches, I started noticing that it wasn't really looking like a sock should. And, because the only "socks" I have ever knitted were a couple of gigantic stockings a year ago for Christmas, I didn't really know what I should be doing. I mean, after all... shouldn't a knitter who has no idea what she's doing abide only by pattern law at all times??? I guess I just got too excited about being on the home stretch of my very first ever real sock and forgot about the rules.

So for now, I've frogged those anarchy-ridden 3 inches and I'm back up to the heel again. Here's to rules! Hey, at least I knew enough to realize I was doing something wrong. Football Saturdays offer a perfect stretched-out afternoon to knit and cheer and yell at the tv. The sports announcers sound better, I think, with the tick, tick, click of my aluminum needles in the background anyway. :)


Here's to the good life.

We have officially moved into our first new home. And by officially moved into, I mean, boxes are unpacking one-by-one and at least the dishes are in the cabinets.

I experienced a few long moments of intense panic when I realized I wasn't sure where either Poppy doll or Hubby sock had been packed. And we've got a whole mess of boxes that are stuffed full of... just... stuff. Magazines, yarns, needles, books, patterns... everything. Luckily, the three important aforementioned work-in-progresses were found shortly after my mental breakdown. Tucked away in a corner of our new master bedroom, in their own little reusable grocery bag, all cozy and quiet and ready to be worked on again. *Sigh of relief.*

So, here's to the good life. Here I am, lying on the sofa, blogging and knitting a sock, some easy listening provided by The Strokes and Cake, pup curled up next to me while The Hubster clicks around at games on the computer. All that's missing is a cool, sweet glass of Riesling.


Sock update

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have progress!

I had The Hubs try on and model what I have so far of his first sock. I must admit, I am quite pleased with my results!

So far, it's been a pretty mindless project. This section of the socks for me definitely has a high rate of multitaskability with its K1, P1, K2, P2, etc, etc, etc repetition, so I've gotten in plenty of TV watching as well as searching for more Socktober projects for myself on Ravelry. I had forgotten how satisfying it is to listen to the subtle click, tick, tick of aluminum needles at work.

So far, so good! Now, let us keep our fingers crossed that I am this exuberant about the second sock and have the endurance left within myself to make my own pair, once they're decided upon. ;)


Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater!

Oops! I haven't stopped by in quite a while.

I was too busy obsessing about my last-week's "decision" to knit the Hedgerow Socks for The Hubster (I stuck to my guns and he's getting them!), and also super-obsessing about us closing on our very first house (yippee!!!) to remember to blog.

Now, I'm back.

I couldn't help myself, and once I finally firmly decided that Hubs was actually getting the Hedgerows, I had to start right away. I know, I totally cheated and started knitting my Socktoberfest project before October began, but hey, I was way too excited to still be waiting. First, of course, I tested my gauge. Looks good, feels nice and dense, but the fibers are a little more abrasive knit-up than they are on skein. But because Hubs approved of the texture and the pretty-much-definitely pistachio green color of my fabulous yarn from Croatia, I had to get started right away.

I fell into the ease of repetition in this pattern. And, because I only really need to be able to count to 2 at any given moment, it's super easy to knit while I'm watching Project Runway or House on TV. (For looks, I did add in a row of purl stitches in the center of the K4, P2 ribbed top.) As for now, here's what I've completed:

I'm glad it's starting to cool off a little outside now. The socks should be finished just in time to hug a few cold toes. And I'm getting the itch to bake something pumpkin spice-ish. I wonder if anyone out there knits aprons to bake in...?


Are you ready for Socktoberfest?

...'cause I'm pumped!

A long-lost someone posted this on Ravelry, and it made sense to me:


A very simple concept with very few restrictions - Socktoberfest is an October-long celebration of the art of making socks. It is a simple celebration of the accessories that we make as crafters to cover our feet. Think of it more as a festival than a knitalong - people who love something come together and celebrate it!

I'm the one in the orange sweater, intense as all get-out, knitting my first scarf in Lion Brand's Homespun yarn, in a pretty lavender color. However, because that yarn was a little more difficult to work with and I had no idea what to expect (or even how to knit), my first-ever knitting project (a scarf shaped like a boy part, because of accidental increases, a sudden realization of them, and then immediate decreases!) became my first-ever frogged project. (Annnnnnnd, no, to this day I still haven't lived that one down.) Then, somehow, that yarn was lost in the process of living a dorm life.

From 2008-2009, The Hubs and I lived in Arizona for a year, and I worked with some amazing girls there who really kept the desert living doable for us southeastern weather lovers. Two of them really took an interest to my Desert Rose, and so I created a knitting party at my house, complete with cookies and a curious pup. I got to pass on my passion to someone else, and they both really fell in love with the craft.

Other than those experiences, I haven't ever really been a part of a group project or club for knitting. Socktoberfest is going to be another first for me, and I am so excited! I've been on my Ravelry account, flipping through so many sock patterns my eyes are doing somersaults. My goal is to complete two pairs of socks this Socktoberfest: one pair for The Hubster, and one pair for myself. (First, it was just one pair, for him, but I'm too excited about it to not knit a pair for myself.)

I'm planning on using a kind-of-pistachio-green-with-hints-of-red,-blue,-and-green-flecks-here-and-there wool/acrylic blend yarn I picked up on a recent family vacation in Dubrovnik. Maybe I'll use the needles I got there, too, just to keep the socks as Croatian as possible...?

The Hubster gets Hedgerow Socks by Jane Cochran, I've pretty much decided. They're just pretty enough to keep me interested in the pattern, and just fancy enough to be dress socks for a man without being pretty, I think. He's just excited I'm making any for him at all.

Once I've decided what I'm making for myself, I'll shout it from the rooftops!


Desert Rose, my first sweater

Here's a little blast from the (not-so-far-back) past, my beloved Desert Rose sweater. This was the first sweater I ever attempted, and the only one I have completed to-date. The pattern was originally titled Rusted Root, written by Sarah and Rachel, but I just fell in love with the feminine lace pattern of this sweater so much, calling her anything to do with rust or a root made me think dirty or weeds. I held a vote on my personal blog, and decided on the replacement name of Desert Rose.

This was the first project I ever knitted that had any sort of lace in it. It was also the project that taught me increases, decreases, yarn-over, knit two together, and other knitting instructions. Other than knitting these giant stockings for The Hubster, me, and our little fuzzy pup for Christmas, I hadn't knitted anything other than scarves until I knitted this sweater! I am just as proud of her today as I was the day I finished her, blocked her, and tried her on for the camera!

(P.S. If you reference my sweater here against the other Rusted Root sweaters pictured on Ravelry, you'll notice that my lace detail is on the opposite side of the front of my sweater. Yeah, I'm a lefty, and I knit as a lefty which means I knit everything backwards, and I think I forgot to switcheroo everything in this pattern. I was a bit nervous about the big project! So I think that's what happened with that.)

Mary Jane Close-Up

These two little baby dolls have turned out to be an extremely fun project to work on! I have enjoyed customizing them with their little undies, and have actually knitted down to their tippy toes by now. For both babies! Here's your next sneak peek:

A "Caution" tape worthy setback!

I've been avoiding a small problem.

When I started knitting in both little Poppys' panties (changing colors from skin tone to underwear color and back to skin tone again), there was a small opening where the two colors separated from each other. I researched on how to avoid this problem, and have long-since found an easy answer to my annoying little holes of problems.

The way to avoid these little holes is very easy. But the way to repair the holes that already exist is totally heartbreaking: I must unravel and start again.

I know, I know, it's totally devastating. But it must be done! Otherwise these sweet little baby dolls will be leaking baby doll guts before their sweet mommies can properly break them in and introduce them to all the other playtime friends.

So, it is now a terrifying but necessary fact - we are reduced to this image:

I thought it only fair to share the entire baby doll making process, and that includes both the happy progress as well as the sad little beginner's knitting-and-learning setbacks. Baby doll guts are just so sad and depressing. But I promise, I'm working quickly to make these two little friends as quickly as my aching knitter's pinkie will allow!

One Poppy, Two Poppy

I have been dealt a tall order: it is the dream of two very special mommies for me to create a sweet little lovable baby doll for two pretty little lovable girls. This is a project that looks much more complicated and fancy than any project I have attempted before, so I have a feeling it's going to be a big challenge. And I am so excited!

I met up with the little girls and their mommies to pick out the yarns. It seems cotton and bamboo are the fibers of choice for any girl under the age of 3 looking to cuddle and love the baby dolls that those fibers make. One baby doll is being made of mostly Patons Angora Bamboo yarns while the other is working up nicely from Lily Sugar n' Cream Cotton yarns.

From a modesty standpoint, and because big girl undies are especially fun for little potty training-age girls, I made a few changes to the body frame of sweet little Poppy. Once shoulders have been shaped, and sts for arms have been placed on markers, knit two rounds. Then I worked the rest of the body for modesty as follows:

Rnds 41 and 42: K 2 rnds
Rnd 43: K4 mc, K5 cc, K2 mc, K5 cc, K rest of rnd in mc
Rnds 44-47: K4 rnds cc
Rnd 48: K20 cc, K20 mc
Rnd 49: K4 mc, K5 cc, K2 mc, K5 cc, K rest of rnd in mc.
Rnds 50-56: K7 rnds mc
Rnds 57-60: K4 rnds cc
Rnd 61: K3 mc, K14 cc, K3 mc
Rnd 62: K4 mc, K12 cc, K4 mc
Rnd 63: K6 mc, K8 cc, K6 mc
Rnd 64: K7 mc, K6 cc, K7 mc
Rnd 65: K8 mc, K4 cc, K8 mc

Now little Poppy will have complete and cool modesty while her clothes are being changed from dress to skirt/top, to whatever-else-little-miss-playtime-wants!

These little dolls are just precious and I think it's going to be tough to part with them in the end. Wish me luck as I continue my project!