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Posts from November 2009

9 Times the Fun

My baby is NINE today

Xander's birthdays 

(From Top Left: 5, 6, 7, 8th birthdays, Xander at 4, Xander's 9th (big photo), 3rd birthday, Baby Xander (6months) and Xander at 2. )

And he couldn't be happier.  He got some good swag and had a great party a few weekends back: 3 boys slept over and they played Wii for 9 hours, then woke up and played some more.  

Of course there's lego.  Can't be a birthday without it.


Me, I can't get over how fast the time is going.  At least the cake was delicious.


Grey Mist--My Knitting Nemesis?

I have been putting on my knit-kicking boots and getting down to business with my Grey Mist Bohus.  The second sleeve is a few inches from completion and I spent some time this weekend evaluating what's left to do.

  1. Finish sleeve in progress.  Do a ribbed cuff.
  2. Rip back hemmed cuff from first sleeve, lengthen sleeve to match, do ribbed cuff.  (Note to self: don't measure sleeve in the car--it is too short that way--you must be standing)
  3. Rip back hemmed edge of body, do ribbed hem.
  4. Wait, try on to see what's up with the body.  The hem is flaring out in an unflattering way.  Why is that?  What the hell is going to fix it?  How many stitches am I supposed to have anyway.
  5. Stop.  Take off sweater, get big 2000watt halogen used for construction and count teeny tiny stitches.  346. 
  6. Check pattern.  How many stitches should I have?  Why don't I have any notes?  Shit, I shouldn't take nearly 3 years to knit a sweater, it always leads to disaster.
  7. By my calculations I should have 346 sts.  That's good.  So why does the hem flare after the waist shaping.  Did I increase to quickly?  Is the sweater not long enough?  Shit.
  8. Take a deep breath and rip out body hem, and 20 rows of the body.  This eliminates 8 increased sts.  That should cut down the flaring.  Should.
  9. Pick up all live sts and count.  346.  Phew.  Decrease 4 more sts on next round.  The ribbed hem should take care of the rest.
  10. Pray to all deities that there won't be an unslightly pucker when I switch to ribbing.  (I'm flirting with aethism but at this moment I'll take whatever divine intervention there is).
  11. Revise plan as follows:
  12. Knit 20 (or so) rows of body, switch to ribbing, finish body
  13. Finish live sleeve (have the dpns in my hand sock knitting tube so they don't fall out), do a shallower ribbed edge
  14. Take care of first sleeve
  15. Stick to the plan. 

What's Steph Knitting?

Really, even though the blog is pretty silent (work is mostly to blame), I'm still doing a bit of knitting.

I finished a beret last week.


Chevron Lace Beret (Ravelry link) using Manos Silk Blend.  I really like it, but the colour looks horrible on me. It's going into the Christmas gift pile.  I've started a cowl to go with it.  Probably won't keep that either.  Sigh.  The yarn was very nice to work with and I would like some more in the future.  Silk really does make everything better.

And I'm working on the ugliest socks ever.  I'm pretty sure the yarn is a STR Rare Gem (can't find the label) and it was my mom's choice for her curling socks (she has a hot pink vest to match), but the pooling is making for some serious ugliness from my vantage point.  Perhaps the sight of her ankles whizzing by will distract the other team.  


She'll like them because she's my Mom (and very appreciative of my knitting) and they're fine to knit (just plain old socks) but man, they're ugly.  Too much yellow I think.

The Bohus continues.  Kim practically dared me to have this done in the next three weeks, and I'm up for the challenge.  Hopefully my life will make way for my need to get this sweater done.  I'm itching to cast on a new sweater (something aran weight on big needles) and I told myself I have to have Grey Mist done first.


Well it took me almost a year, but I finally released my Hansel Mittens.  


The companion to Ysolda's Gretel beret, these mittens knit up fast in heavy worsted or aran weight yarn and have a lattice cable pattern inspired by the beret.


The pattern includes charts and line-by-line instructions and is available on Ravelry for $5.00.  

The mittens have an 8" /20cm hand circumference and are 9.5" / 24 cm long.  For smaller mittens, knit to a tighter gauge.

I used Foxhill Farms Cormo Cross, but any worsted/aran weight yarn would do--about 220yds/200 metres.

So if you made Gretel you can get all matchy and have warm hands this winter.

Knitting *tips & tricks

Lily Chin's new book is billed as "shortcuts and techniques every knitter should know" and is a nice reference for the basics of knitting.  It's also full of "what a good idea" tricks that I'm glad to learn.


Bits and pieces of what's found in her book are found in almost all knitting books, magazines and on line, but this book is a good collection of the technical stuff of knitting and a collection of other things that are of use to both new and accomplished knitters.

The book (which is a hardcover but smallish so it could fit in your bigger knitting bag) is divided into 5 chapters:

1. Needles and Yarn

2. The Basics

3. Getting Started

4. As you work, and 

5. FInishing

The section on yarn and needles is very detailed and covers the diverse systems for weights and measures commonly used in most English speaking countries.  While interesting, I did feel like this could really bog down a new knitter who might wonder why (and even if) she or he needs to know this to make a first scarf. However if you want to know if the nifty 8 ply yarn your brother brought back from New Zealand is worsted weight or dk (in American terms) this would be a great place to look (it's dk btw).  

The Basics covers the how to knit part, including both American and Continental styles, different ways to hold needles and should make a new knitter feel comfortable with learning (even if they feel completely uncoordinated).  There are also lots of good 3 colour illustrations with big details so you can discern a garter stitch from a reverse stockinette.

Ms Chin wisely puts swatching right at the front of the Getting Started chapter, and while I'm probably showing off my own laziness, I found this section contained a lot of very technical information including tips on weighting and hanging swatches, measuring and determining yarn amounts from the swatch.  But the overall message of SWATCH was also very clear.  And yes, I know it's very important.

The tip to use clothes pins to hold a long cast on on circular needles from twisting was one of those great ideas that never occurred to me and gives a sense of the kinds of small but really effective tricks that can make a knitting session go smoothly instead of end in frustration.  These continue in the remaining chapters where colourwork and stripes are tackled, increases and decreases, adding a new yarn, blocking and weaving in ends.

The tone is light and fun and Ms Chin puts the reader at ease.  It's a nice book that would be a great addition to a learn to knit kit gift for that friend who's hinting they want to learn to knit this winter.


The other day, I wanted to knit a beret.  So off I went to Ravelry.  Ravelry is awesome when you want to start something new and want to see what's out there.  I love Ravelry.  But as a user-driven space, what's in Ravelry is only what someone has knit or stashed, and while it seems like EVERYTHING in the Knitiverse is in there, not everything is. 

So enter Knitfinder.  It's an index, developed by a professional indexer (yes, a pro--you know those indexes in the back of books?-she makes those).  And it's awesome.  Currently every pattern in Interweave Knits from Fall 1996 to the current issue is in there, and every issue of Knitty and all the Alice Starmore patterns.  So if you have a bunch of those books and magazines and are hunting for a pattern you can search based on a number of metrics and find the patterns that match, let's say a woman's hat at 4.5 sts to the inch.  Neat eh?  Or if you can't remember which issue that pretty pink shrug is in, you can find it.


Thérèse, the brains behind this, is adding new patterns all the time.  So it's a growing index; next up are Rowan, Twist Collective and EZ/Schoolhouse Press!

She's also providing book reviews on her Knitfinder Blog.  And in that review there's a link to a full list of patterns in the book with sizing, gauge, yarn used and short design notes.  Very helpful for deciding what goes into your knitting library AND finding those patterns after those books are on the shelf.

There are also resource pages providing links to techniques and yarn how-to's and lace and knitting history--kind of like an index of the internet for knitters.  The PhD me likes indexes--they're easier than having a billion bookmarks and they point to some great places I've never ventured.

Some parts of Knitfinder are for subscribers only, but at $14.95 a year it's a great deal.  I've been poking around on the site for a few months now and love how it's quick and easy to search, is a clean site with minimal graphics (so it's great on my iPhone) and there are nifty design notes for each pattern telling you what techniques are used (like lace or colourwork) and the construction of the garment (knit flat, raglan sleeves, top down etc).  And, there's a Ravelry link button that takes you straight to the Ravelry pattern page , so you can see pattern photos and knit-up versions, read other knitters' comments, or add the pattern to your Ravelry queue or favorites.  That closes the circle perfectly!

Wanna have a peek?

Thérèse is offering you fine readers a free 1 week subscription to poke around Knitfinder.  You can use it until November 17th.

Login: demo

Password: andsheknitstoo

Blame it on the Bohus

I really love the Grey Mist Bohus I'm knitting, but I find I need time away from it.  It's not one of those projects I knit obsessively on until it's done .  I suppose that's obvious since I started in March 2007.

This past week it's been spinning and knitting hand spun that's been pulling me away.

First, at his request, I knit up my June Grafton batt into a hat for Xander.


I chose a simple 2X2 rib which is masculine and doesn't interfere with the stripeyness of the wool.  He's been sleeping in it which makes me very happy.


I spent Sunday surrounded by Halloween candy and my lovely "Desiccated Brains" merino sea silk pencil roving (roving dyed by the fabulous Kim).  I spun up the first half and filled what are very large Majacraft bobbins.  I love how it's turning out.  The goal is a sport weight 2 ply and it looks like I'm getting it right.


The second bobbin is currently reading more blue--it's a beautiful green, brown, turquoise mix.  Love it.

Happy Halloween

I love Halloween--all that candy, the costumes, the super-cute little kids--all of it.

We had great fun yesterday hanging out with my friends Elizabeth, Emily and Molly.  The kids got to trick or treat and I got to give out candy and drink some wine.  All good.

Can you guess what my kids went as this year?


Xander/Vader is pretty easy.  (He was happy and it was easy--though I felt a bit like a slacker on this costumer). 

Emma might be a bit tougher.  See the resemblance?


She's wearing a bit more clothes because it was chilly, but I thought we did pretty good making her Bellatrix Lestrange.  The hair was the hardest part--it took a lot of shampoo to get that black hairspray out.

See it now ? (Thanks Emily for the fabulous photos, my camera phone (above) just doesn't cut it).


So much sibling love...


Now we're all crashing on the tons of candy they got.  I tell you I love Halloween.