December 23, 2007

FO: Fetching Mitts

These are not sleeves.

These are three pairs of Fetching mitts.

Posed by the chimney with care.

I know I said I wasn't going to do any Christmas knitting (other than one, single sock for my Mom, which I did finish, by the way.) But sleeve procrastination, remembering three people on my gift list, finding the perfect yarn in my stash, and an unwillingness to battle the mall led me to knit these.

They're all knit in Karabella Aurora 8 Space-Dyed. This brownish pair is color 14. I worked a purl bind off instead of the picot bind off, just 'cause. Otherwise, I followed the pattern exactly.

The next two pairs are color 7. On this one, I worked a regular knit bind off.

I knit the last pair on slightly bigger needles for a roomier fit, added an extra cable row above the thumb and then worked a decrease bind off (K2TOG tbl, put stitch back on left needle and repeat). I might like that bind off the best for these, but it didn't come out the way it looked in my Vogue Knitting. Oh well.

If this post seems a little rushed and loopy it's because I am. We leave for the airport in a few hours. I still need to shower, call the cab, finish packing, etc. Meanwhile, my stupid alarm clock has decided that it will go off at 6:09am, regardless of what time you actually set it for. So I'm up earlier than I wanted to be.

But I am glad to be able to get this post up. And most of all, I'm very glad to be able to wish you all wonderful, safe, happy Holidays!!

December 19, 2007


I was e mailing with Margaret (who is making fabulous mittens - go check 'em out) a few days ago and told her I feared I would get distracted from knitting the sleeves for my Oblique by a pair of stranded mittens.

While I can honestly say I have not cast on a pair of mittens, I must admit to succumbing to the distraction.

I remembered some yarn in my stash which might just be perfect for something in Selbuvotter and started to swatch.

I swatched the cuff pattern (chart A) from NHM #9. After finishing the main pattern, I looked at my little tube and thought of this post of Ali's. I couldn't help but throw some sleeves on there for a mini Selbu sweater.

ChapStick included for scale.

I'm going to make a little coat hanger out of some red pipe cleaner and give this to my Mom as a Christmas tree ornament. (It's been at least 20 years since she's had any hand made tree decorations from me.)

Oh, and by the way... my gauge is perfect for the mittens. Think I'll get back to those sleeves or am I lost to the mittens?

December 13, 2007

Thursday Frog Blog (Oblique Update)

Still chugging along on Oblique, despite some setbacks.

Setback the first happened at the raglan shaping on the back. The pattern tells you where to put the decreases at the edges but simply tells you to "work in pattern" to the next edge. It pretty much figures you're smart enough to handle working raglan decreases across the slanting lace stitches. Evidently, I'm not. Or at least I wasn't thinking it through on my first attempt.

As my raglan decreases began gobbling up my slanting lace stitches, there were several times when I made the YO for the lace pattern but didn't have enough stitches to make the corresponding K2TOG or SSK. I just slapped those lacy holes wherever they would normally appear without realizing YO - Lace Decrease + Raglan Decrease = 0 Stitches Decreased. Duh.

So there I was, having worked almost as many decrease rows as instructed but finding my stitch count to be distinctly higher than it should have been. Sleuth that I am, I deduced some error was being made. Bonehead that I am, it took me, like, half the day to figure out exactly what that error was.

Eventually, I realized what I must have done and knew the only solution was to rip. Enter Bruce.

I was back on track after that and have now finished the back piece and started on the fronts. (I like to knit both cardigan fronts at the same time, right next to each other, on the same needle.)

I was merrily knitting along, had finished the waist decreases and started the waist increases. I left off one night after measuring and deciding when I picked up the knitting the next day, I was ready to start the neckline decreases on the first row I'd be working.

I did not measure again the next morning. I just started those neckline decreases. Thus began setback the second.

I had a great day. I scored lots of knitting time and was having a blast working the neckline decreases and waist increases. I was in that beautiful knitting zone where you lose yourself in the process. The yarn is soft and supple. The needles are warm and smooth. Each row is more exciting than the last. You and the knitting are one and you can't put it down. Not even to measure the darn thing.

I knit like that for about three solid hours. I don't think I so much as went to the bathroom in that time. (Maybe this is more than you wanted to know, but when you've got a fetus kicking you in the bladder, not going to the bathroom can be a big deal.)

So anyway, when I had finished the waist increases and was thisclose to finishing the neckline decreases, I finally measured to see when to start the raglan decreases.

Oh, the horror when I measured and saw that I had started my neckline decreases too soon. About an inch too soon. The neckline for this sweater is already pretty low. An inch even lower and it would look very, very weird. I must have misread my tape measure the night before.

In a fit of frustration, I threw the pile of misbehaving knitting on the coffee table. The irony of how happy the model is in that picture is not lost on me.

I steeled myself for another massive frogging session. I was feeling especially bitter because I had had so much fun with the knitting that day and now I had to rip it all out, right back to where I was the night before. Grrr...

I got Bruce out again because taking pictures of a stuffed frog with errant knitting helps me keep perspective and a sense of humor.

Don't you think Bruce looks just a tad too satisfied sitting amongst the carnage? Well, he is. Because it turns out all that ripping was completely, totally, un-freakin-neccessary!

I measured again after ripping and was stymied to find the knitting measured exactly the right length to start the neckline decreases. I had not, as I previously thought, measured wrong the night before. I had, instead, measured wrong mere moments before.

I sat there, with my head in my hands for a good, long time. It was all so overwhelming. I had been so sure. It seemed so much more likely that I'd gotten it wrong the night before. How could this be happening? I considered knitter's black hole and tried to grapple with the possibility that I had found another example of the laws of physics bending to the will of the knitting goddesses. Could it be that both measurements were right? That I had started the neckline decreases at exactly the right length but that length somehow warped to the wrong length after nearly completing the decreases? Since everything I'd knit that day was already ripped out, there was no way I'd ever be able to know for sure. I'd simply have to chalk it up to a mystery and figure out what to do next.

I decided that I couldn't bear to re-knit it exactly the way I had before. What if this really was some strange force of knitting nature? I'd be an idiot to repeat the same mistake. So I decided to start the neckline a little higher this time. Even if that meant doing it "wrong." I figured I'd do it that way anyway because (I hope) a little too high would look better than a little too low on the finished sweater.

Yesterday, I got caught up to the row I had been on when I ripped. Last night, I didn't have the alertness or emotional fortitude to inspect and measure and see if things were better this time. While I was tired and bleary, if I had measured and decided that it was still all wrong there would have been tears, hysterics and possibly a lapse into a catatonic state.

I checked the knitting this morning and am happy to report that I fully intend to continue knitting onward. The new neckline starts about .75" higher than the pattern calls for, but I'm just going to consider that a personal and somewhat-intentional modification and move on.

I now know, that everything was exactly as the pattern suggests when I ripped out a whole day's work, but I'm trying not to dwell too much on that. I keep reminding myself that I had a lot of fun knitting that section of the sweater the first time, so theoretically I should enjoy knitting it again.

The reality is the textured lace pattern combined with the neckline decreases as well as the waist increases happening at the other edge makes the knitting pucker a bit. I'm sure blocking, seaming and button bands will resolve the pucker, but while the knitting is still on the needles, I'll have to carefully smooth it out when measuring. So there was warping going on after all. However, it was simply warping of some knitted fabric as opposed to a warping of the laws of physics. How mundane.

December 7, 2007

FO: Mama Mouse

Due to my first trimester blog hiatus, I never told you guys that I went to England. In October, my grandmother (who lives in Bournemouth) had her 90th birthday. My mom threw a big party and the whole family gathered from far and wide to celebrate.

Gaggy, as I call my grandma, said she didn't want any presents. She's 90. She lives in a fairly small flat. She pretty much has all the stuff she needs. So while I can totally understand her request not to acquire more things, I figured a small, hand knit gift from her granddaughter would be acceptable anyway.

I happen to know that my grandma has a weakness for small, cute, fluffy toys. She has a whole teddy bear collection, several piggie things scattered about the flat and she and I went on a Furby kick together however many years back (8 years ago or was it 9?).

So I made her Mama Mouse from Mel's Mouse Family (raverly link) in Knit 2 Together.

I used the recommended Classic Elite Lush yarn for the body. For Mama Mouse's cocktail dress, I held one strand of Koigu KPM together with one strand of Skacel Karat.

I gave her a pearl necklace.
I think she came out quite cute.

I did make a few minor modifications. The directions call for knitting the arms and legs flat then seaming them up. I didn't really see the sense in that, so I knit them in the round instead. Since the legs are started at the feet, I used the figure eight cast on to avoid even sewing up the bottom of the foot. It made the foot look much cleaner, too.

The cocktail dress is knit in one piece. You then put it on the mouse and sew it up at the back. The only mod I made here was to leave a hole at the back for the tail to stick out.

Gaggy loved her.

December 4, 2007

Single Sock Outbreak

Normally, I'm a very diligent second sock knitter. However a recent confluence of events has me knitting only single socks. I gotta say, I rather enjoy it.

About a month ago, the talented and generous Whitney sent me this adorable project bag.

Inside was one Tabi Sock from Knitting Classic Style as well as the pattern and enough yarn so that I could knit the second sock to complete the pair.

I was so thrilled. I had been wanting a pair of tabi socks and now I was half way there. Not only that, but I had never seen this particular pattern before and I felt like it was the tabi sock pattern I had been waiting for. Furthermore, Whitney picked the perfect color and yarn, Knit Picks Essential in Pumpkin.

I had a blast with this pattern and I adore the finished pair. I was delighted with the ease I had matching Whitney's gauge. She used US 2 bamboo dpn's while I used US 1 aluminum dpn's, but the socks match perfectly. Despite the perfect match, I'll always know that the left sock was knit for me. I love that.

I finished the sock the night before we left town for Hawaii. Could not have been better timing. It was cold and grey in the morning when we were headed to the airport. I wore my new socks with my flip flops and my feet were cozy and warm. Airport security was a breeze because I only had to kick off the flip flops but didn't have to get skeeved out walking barefoot through the airport. My feet were comfy on the plane and when we landed in Hawaii, I simply slipped the socks off and was ready for the tropical weather that greeted us outside.

I found wearing this pair of socks to satisfy my soul in a way I'd never really experienced. I felt the pride and satisfaction I get from wearing my own hand knits, but I also got that special feeling you can only get from wearing something made for you by someone else. All in one pair of socks. Brilliant.

Given how much joy that gave me, I'm so glad I can contribute to sharing that feeling with two other people.

See, I had also sent a single sock with pattern and yarn to Debra of Molecular Knitting. I sent her one Twisted Flower sock.

It's a fairly complex pattern. I really enjoyed knitting this sock but did feel a wee bit gleeful when I didn't have to knit the second, complex sock. I've always admired the pattern and wanted to try my hand at it, but I just kind of knew it would be the sort of project where I might run out of steam. Having the excuse, uh, I mean, opportunity to knit only one was pretty great.

The final, single sock is for my Mom. When she was visiting back in the summer, I did some hard core sock knitting enabling on her and got her to knit her very first sock. She finished all but kitchenering up the toe and then fell prey to second sock syndrome. When she went back home, she left her sock behind with the plea that maybe I would knit the second sock for her.

Well, I couldn't say no to that. But I can procrastinate like crazy.

I've only just finished up the gusset decreases. My thinking, at this point, is that I'll give her the finished pair for Christmas, making this one sock the only Christmas knitting I'm doing.

There. I said it. I'm knitting one, super-simple sock as my Only. Christmas. Knitting.

I had lost my knitting mojo for so long. Now it's back and I only want to knit Oblique for myself. My goal is to have it finished before I go back East for Christmas. And I don't feel the least bit bad about that, either.

November 30, 2007

Eye Candy Friday

It's been a long time since I did one of these.

Here are pictures from our recent trip to Hawaii featuring three things for which I am a sucker: palm trees, the ocean and sailboats.

Have a great weekend everyone!

November 27, 2007

Still Thankful

Well, Thanksgiving is over and we're back home from a wonderful vacation. We went to Hawaii where we met up with some of Chris' family and had an amazing time together. It wasn't my idea of a traditional Thanksgiving, but I loved every second of it and could definitely see doing it again.

The view from our hotel room. There was a park, then the beach and ocean.

The day before we left, we had another ultra sound appointment. We found out the baby is a girl!

Baby girl at 18 weeks, 6 days.

I think for blogging purposes and certainly until she has an official name, I'll call her Minnie Purl.

I've started feeling the "flutters" of her movements. It's pretty wild and a much more fun reminder of being pregnant than feeling sick all the time.

And my desire to knit is back! On the plane, I cast on for Oblique. I'm making it with Elsebeth Lavold Classic AL in a yummy, warm, brown color called Aged Oak.

I bought the yarn last year when Webs had it on closeout. (It's on closeout again and this link will take you there.) My plan for it then was to make the Nantucket Jacket from IK, but I just never got around to it.

I had been wanting to make a big, cozy cardigan for myself that will take me and my growing belly through the winter, but also work post-baby. I had a sort-of-plan for a very basic, no-pattern cardigan using a different yarn in my stash. But when I saw the pattern for Oblique, I put the sort-of-plan on hold. I went stash diving, found this Lavold yarn and immediately started swatching for Oblique.

I got lots done on it in Hawaii. One day, I went down to the park and sat myself under a tree to knit. It was lovely.

After a while, a woman approached me to say she saw me knitting and just wanted to come over and chat. She's crocheted for years, but only recently learned how to knit and loves it. She was very sweet and complimentary when I showed her my work. She says her daughters (who turned out to be my age) tease her and so she was happy to see that it's not a dying art. I told her she could find lots of fellow knitters on line.

I'm still working my way up the back piece. I'm about a half inch away from starting the raglan shaping.

Progress has slowed since being home, though. I took this picture yesterday, but I'm only about 3 rows further along now.

I also went yarn shopping in Hawaii. I found a delightful store in Honolulu called Yarn & Friends. They were super friendly there. At first, it seemed like they didn't have a very big selection, but as I looked closer, I realized they had a surprisingly large variety packed into their relatively small space.

I bought some gorgeous laceweight (Ornaghi Filati Merino Oro) in a very-Jean, brick-red color which will someday be a lace shawl for me. Not sure yet which lace shawl. I'm open to pattern suggestions. There's 1375 yds in this one skein.

I also got some Cascade Yarns Pima Tencel in a lovely pinky-peach color. I think I'll use this to make EZ's February Baby Sweater for my little one on the way.

I wish I'd had the presence of mind to take pictures of these yarns in a pretty, Hawaiian setting, but alas, after I thought to do that, I never had the yarn, the camera and some daylight all in the same place at the same time. Instead, I decided to embrace the little bit of Autumn-ness we get back home (hence the fallen leaves in the pictures).

Well that's all for now. Please send house-selling vibes my way. We close escrow on the new place tomorrow. Until we sell this house, we'll be the stressed out owners of two mortgages.

November 15, 2007

Excuses, excuses...

As promised, I will now explain why I fell off the face of the blogosphere back in August: Chris and I are expecting our first child in April.

A picture of the "seed purl" taken at 11 weeks, 3 days.
On the right side of the picture is the head and face in profile. The brightish blob on the top-leftish side is a hand.

We found out I'm pregnant on August 9th, our fourth wedding anniversary. There I was reading all your wonderful, special date stories in response to my contest, when a date that was already special to me became doubly special. It was thrilling and exciting. But I had no idea what I was in for.

Mid-August, Chris and I took a week to go see his family. We had a lovely time. Except that was when the morning sickness kicked in. I was so unprepared. I really had no idea what it would be like.

I didn't puke on that trip (that came later), but was taken quite off-guard by the constant nausea and unrelenting fatigue. One day, while knitting some socks for Chris, I suddenly had to put down the needles because knitting was making me feel dizzy. Not a good feeling when you're already queasy. That was pretty much the last knitting I did until October.

Dead give away I wasn't feeling normal: I'm clutching a bottle of water instead of some knitting. Also, check out the queasy smile.

I didn't even want to knit. On a theoretical level, losing my desire to knit was upsetting. But in all reality, I simply wasn't up for it. I was already feeling bad and knitting, horribly, made me feel even worse. This is a knitting blog and with no knitting, what did I have to blog about?

The other problem was that sitting at the computer was even worse! Looking at the screen totally exacerbated the nausea and fatigue. I could read a few e mails and scan/lurk a few blogs, but then I'd have to stagger to the bathroom or the bedroom. I started going for days without so much as turning on the computer.

During this time, Cara shared the news of her pregnancy. (She's about three weeks ahead of me.) It was very comforting to know I wasn't alone and that she was going through lots of the same stuff. But how she managed to keep blogging, I'll never know.

I must vent now, for just a little bit. I was sorely misinformed about the first trimester of pregnancy. Oh sure, I'd heard about morning sickness and fatigue, but I didn't really get it. I was under the impression that you would experience "episodes" of being sick or tired and when the episode had passed you'd be back to normal until the next episode. I could not have been more wrong. Nobody had ever explained to me that no, no... you will be both sick and tired nonstop for three solid months.

Okay, rant over. Because really, I know it wasn't as bad for me as it could have been. And I am truly overjoyed and grateful to be pregnant. So I feel a bit of a schmuck complaining about it. I suspect that it's similar feelings of guilt over complaining that prevent scads of preggies (and former preggies) from sharing just how hard it can be to grow a person. That, and maybe they know that if we knew how brutal it can be, we might consider skipping the whole ordeal. There are ways to have children that don't involve allowing a parasite to hijack your body. Shoot, it sounds like I'm complaining again. Bottom line: feeling sick sucks, being pregnant is a wonderful reason to put up with it.

I finally started feeling better at the beginning of this month. It was just in time for some more big news. We had put in an offer on a new, bigger house and it got accepted. Whoo-hoo, new house! Of course that means we have to sell this house. This house that I have loved so much. This is a beautiful house, almost magical, and it's been perfect for the two of us and the dog. But baby on the way means we need more space. Also, the new houses is in a safer neighborhood with better schools.

As you may know, the process of buying a new house and selling the current house takes a lot of time and effort. More things to eat up knitting and blogging time and leave me so tired I start falling asleep on the couch at 7pm. But it's exciting and will be worth it. Thank heavens I'm feeling better than I was.

I have done some knitting but I think I'll share that in another post. This one is really just about letting you know why I was gone for so long.

Finally, I'd like to give a huge, public "Thank You!" to my amazing husband, Chris. He has done all the heavy lifting (both literal and figurative) for me and for us since forever, really, but especially since I've been pregnant. I absolutely could not do any of this without him. I have been physically weak and emotionally fragile and he has been my rock. He has taken it all in stride and been incredibly loving, sweet and tender to me. I can't even imagine what I would do if he weren't here taking such fantastic care of me. I am grateful way beyond these meager words can possibly express. I love you, sweetheart. Thank you for everything.

November 13, 2007

Contest Winners!

Hi there. Remember me? No? I totally forgive you. I hardly remember myself, I've been gone for so long. In my next post (which hopefully won't be, like, months from now) I'll tell you all about why I disappeared from blogland and why it's taken me so long to get back.

But first things first.

Right before pulling my little disappearing act, I ran a blog contest. I asked to hear about dates that were special to you. I was delighted with the response and loved hearing all the stories about special dates. There were birthdays, anniversaries, first kisses, first dates, several cancer-free days, and even some stories of heartbreak and tragedy. The very special common thread through all these stories was a beautiful perspective on life. The joyful times keep us going and are to be remembered and celebrated. Meanwhile, the hard times can bring strength, clarity and purpose, even if we don't see it immediately. Reading through the contest comments tells this story in a remarkable, collective voice. I found it very powerful.

It was, however, still a random-drawing contest with prizes to be given. And that means there are winners!

First place went to Ellen! She doesn't have a blog, but you can find her on Ravelry as eroomje.

Second place went to Diane!

Third place went to Dr. B!

And finally, there was a winner of the Grand Prize. To win the grand prize, your special date had to match the date I had in my mind. And the winner is Annie! She doesn't have a blog, but you can find her on Ravelry as QTKnits.

Annie gave April 10th as her date because that's the birthday of her twin daughters. That is the date I was thinking of because it's also my birthday. She was the only person to mention April 10th, so she wins the cashmere outright. However, I would like to give an honorable mention to Glitter, who said that the 10th of every month was special to her, especially July and September 10th. Since I asked for only one date and since she didn't mention April 10th specifically, the judges ruled against entering her into a drawing for the grand prize. Still, I feel she deserves some recognition for coming close.

Well that's it for now. I'll try to be back soon to get caught up on stuff that's been going on with me. I've done only a small amount of knitting in my blog absence, but I do have some pictures to share. And some stories to tell.

A note to the winners: I mailed your prize packages today, so you should have them by the end of the week.

September 16, 2007

So Much to Say

Yeesh, I haven't posted in a month. Bad blogger! I don't especially feel like making excuses for my bloggy failings, so I'll just say I've been trapped under something heavy this whole time.

I haven't forgotten about my contest. I am thrilled to pieces over how many responses I got. Thank you all so much for participating! And super big thanks to those who linked to my contest on their blogs. I have not yet done the drawing, because I'm still working my way through the entries! I'll get there...eventually. Promise.

Yesterday, was the Los Angeles speaking engagement of our beloved Yarn Harlot. It was a fantastic event. From her blog and books, it's easy to know how funny and smart Stephanie is. But what really blew me away about meeting her in person is her remarkable charisma. She has that rare ability to both move an entire crowd and to make people feel special on an individual basis.

She spoke for about an hour. As an audience, we laughed and cheered almost non-stop. Some people were even moved to tears in parts. And of course, there was knitting. Lots and lots of knitting.

Like an idiot, I forgot to bring my camera. Luckily for me, knitters are delightful, friendly and generous with their cameras. This picture comes courtesy of Darcy.

See that yellow thing I'm knitting there? That's the hat I made to donate to charity. I finished it during Stephanie's talk. Whew, close call.

Speaking of the hats for charity, I had the honor of being on the "Hat Lady" team. I say hat lady team, because there were also representatives from the Sand and Sea Knitting Guild collecting hats. We collected a total of 45 hats. The baby size hats will go to Stitches from the Heart and the child and adult size hats will go to Kaiser Permanente's hospice care program.

Stephanie signed my books. Despite her "ridiculously long name," she credits knitting for her hand never getting tired, even when she spends two hours signing books.

These next two pictures are courtesy of Kathleen, who has an excellent post about the event on her blog.

You'll be glad to hear that when asked what her next book is about, Stephanie replied, "Knitting!" She also told us that Jayme-the-wonder-publicist is on "thin ice" with regards to getting those socks.

It was a really fun event. And I'm pretty sure all the knitters were successful in freaking out the library staff and patrons. Good job LA knitters, way to represent!

August 13, 2007

Massive Stash Enhancement

...And if you want to enhance your stash, be sure to check out my contest.

Before I get into this (and "this" is a lot to get into), I forgot something yesterday. I meant to mention my (very minor) modifications to the Loksins! pattern. I did a 2 x 2 ribbed cuff and I grafted the last 12 stitches on the toe, instead of gathering up and cinching the last 8 stitches.

I feel better now. Moving on.

Recently, Suss had a giant moving sale. They are moving just next door but the new location is probably one third to one quarter the size of the previous location. They needed to sell, sell, sell!

I ran amok in that sale. I was grabbing all sorts of things and not even keeping a tally of how much it was all going to cost. I got all this yarn...

And all these buttons...

...And headed to the cash register. I was eyeballing all this stuff and thinking, "If this weren't on sale, this would probably be in the $200+ range. Since it is on sale, maybe I'm looking at about $100."

Well, the girl rings me up and says, "That'll be $38." The first thought I had - and don't judge me for this, you probably would have thought the same thing, which is why I like you - was, "Only 38 bucks?!? For all this?!? I didn't buy enough!"

To be clear, here's what all that yarn is:
2 balls Noro Aurora
7 skeins Suss Bomull (100% cotton) in three colors. (One entire skein is not pictured because I've already knit it.)
8 balls of an ivory colored yarn with most of the ball band in a language I can't read (Japanese, maybe?). It calls itself "Extra Fine." More on "extra fine what?" later.
8 balls of that same "extra fine" yarn in chocolate brown.
4 skeins of a yellow yarn also with a foreign ball band called "Exceed Wool."
2 balls of Suss Cotton Perle, a fingering weight cotton string which I like for sewing seams.
1 skein of Suss Bamboo in chocolate brown
1 skein Debbie Bliss Pure Silk in a soft, yellow-gold color.

Having not spent enough, I went back to the sale the very next day. You know you would have done the same. Right?

Here's my haul from the second run:

6 skeins Suss Bomull in Raisin, enough for a sweater for Chris.
6 skeins of brown Cascade Pastaza, enough for a sweater for me.
5 balls of Karabella Aurora 8 in two spacedyed colors.
4 skeins of Cascade Baby Alpaca Chunky in that gorgeous green color.

(If you want to know the specific names/numbers of any of these colors, let me know and I'll find out. I just don't have it in front of me right now.)

The Cascade and Karabella yarns were a little more high-end, so this trip ran me $46. Still $84 for all this yarn (and buttons) from both trips is fan-freakin-tastic!

But the mystery of the non-English ball bands was weighing on me. I got the yarn for cheap, which is great, but it would be a downer if it's cheap yarn anyway. A bunch of yarn I don't want to knit is wasted money - and space in the stash - no matter how inexpensive it was.

The only thing in English on the ivory and chocolate brown yarn is "Knitting Yarn by Extra Fine Merino. Extra Fine."

I sure was hoping the yarn actually is extra fine merino, but I couldn't be entirely sure. Just because the manufacturer's name seems to be Extra Fine Merino, doesn't mean the yarn really is merino.

On the back of the ball band, I could see that whatever fiber this yarn is, it's 100% that fiber.

I was encouraged to know it's not a blend. It looks and feels like wool to me, but I was a touch concerned that maybe, with the excitement of the sale, I was being taken in by a good acrylic.

The yellow yarn was a similar deal. The ball band says, "Knitting Yarn by Extra Fine Merino. Exceed Wool." Same manufacturer, different yarn.

This fiber is als0 100% of whatever it is. But it's a different 100%. Again, it sure feels like wool, but maybe "exceed wool" is a euphemism for acrylic and I was too hyped up to tell.

Back home, I pulled out my trusty Knitting Rules and turned to the section on identifying mystery yarn.

The first test is the burn test. Oooh, fire, this is going to be fun!

The yellow yarn behaved exactly like wool for the burn test. The ivory yarn was a leeettle more flammable, but still more like wool than anything else. I'm feeling good they're both wool.

But I'm also having fun, so why not do the bleach test, too?

The bleach test says that wool will dissolve completely in bleach. And both yarns did! Because they dissolved completely, there's no point in an "after" picture. It was a picture of a bowl, empty save for some bleach.

The bleach test and burn test together have me confident that they're both wool. Obviously different kinds of wool than each other, but certainly not acrylic. Yay!

So I did the felt-ability test, just to see if maybe I had some superwash on my hands.

Nope. Not superwash. They felted so easily and quickly, though, it was the final proof that I did indeed score 20 balls of wool yarn for, I think, $1 per ball.


I'm out of town for the next week. I'm hoping to get some good "socks on vacation" pictures. Take care of yourselves. I'll "see" you when I'm back.

August 12, 2007

Finally! Some Finished Socks

...And if you like socks, remember I'm giving away lots of sock yarn in my contest. If sock yarn ain't your thang, there's some cashmere to be won, too.

Finished Zarina n0-pattern socks. The last time these socks were seen here was what? Like a month ago? And all that needed to be done was for me to graft the second toe. Well, if you can believe it, I only grafted those stitches yesterday. Let us not speak of what became of my mom's socks, the reason for the delayed grafting. I will say that these socks are crazy comfortable. I put them on for the picture and didn't take them off until bedtime. I hope they'll wear well, because I anticipate wearing them often.

Just yesterday, I also finished the Loksins!

What a fun, pretty pattern. Mine are in Fearless Fibers Superwash Sock Yarn, Chocolate Pink Cherry colorway.

The Fearless Fibers sock yarn is a little thinner than sock yarns to which I'm accustomed. But I didn't quite realize that until the socks were underway. I knit these socks on US 1 (2.25mm) needles (the first sock on bamboo dpn's, which I resent for being too long, bendy and dull pointed, but used for travel purposes; the second on Knit Picks dpn's...ahhh...much better, if just a hair short for me but that got better as I went on.) I think next time I use this yarn, I'll use US 0 (2.00mm) needles. There definitely will be a second time for the Fearless Fibers sock yarn. It's quite lovely and comes in scrumptious colors. But I think it would be well served by thinner needles. In this case though, it turned out to be a good thing I used 2.25mm's because my Loksins! came out a tad snug. They actually feel fantastic once they're on, but it's a bit of a fight getting them on. If I'd used 2.00mm's, I might not have been able to get them on at all.

Sadie likes them, too.

I'm going to try to be back tomorrow with a post about the massive yarn haul I scored at at the Suss moving sale. Then I'm going out of town for about a week. If I don't post tomorrow, you can just figure I fell into the time suck of trying to figure out which yarn and needles to pack.

August 10, 2007

All Wound Up

I'm loving the contest entries. There are some really beautiful stories in there. Keep 'em coming. The contest is open all month.

The other day, my Bee Fields Shawl kit arrived from Wooly Wonka Fibers. I ordered the Tupelo Gold colorway. I gotta say, the gorgeousness of this colorway is very high on the list of reasons I'm attracted to this shawl.

I was so enthralled with the beauty and softness of the yarn, I dove right in and started winding all 1200 yds of the skein. By hand.

It took a long time to wind that all up. I even had to take a few breaks. By the end, I was wondering why I've always told myself I can live without a ball winder. For the first time ever, I was gripped with longing for a ball winder.

I have the best husband ever. You know what he got me for our anniversary? A ball winder! I hadn't even told him how much I was wanting one. And he didn't even know how very long it took me to wind up that laceweight because he wasn't here while I wound. He completely read my mind.

I'm so looking forward to playing with my new toy.

Though, I think I am now in the market for a swift.

I'm going to need a swift to go with the winder, aren't I? Does anyone have any swift recommendations?