Sunday, April 30, 2006

Mermaid and More Socks

Not much to say except that the Hanne Falkenberg Mermaid cardi is coming along nicely. It's fascinating to watch this sideways knit progress.

I really like the self edges - it's a technique that I will apply to other projects. Having said that, 171 stitch rows take FOREVER to knit, or so it seems, which is why I need sock knitting breathers.

Yes, I've cast on yet another sock. I decided to knit the Traveler's Sock from Knitting on the Road, using Brooklyn Handspun Hawaii Joy, and while it's great yarn, it's the thinnest I've ever knitted. The old term "knitting thread" really applies here! My hat's off to you lace knitters! The pattern recommends using 5 US 1 DPNs, which I find extremely awkward. I changed two of them to a Susan Bates circ, but they suck! The join grabs badly, worse than any other I've used. I changed back to the DPNs. I'm considering buying Addis but the yarn needs a sharper point and a surface from which the stitches will not slip. Crystal Palace bamboo circs are another choice, but I don't know. So...does anyone have recommendations for me?

I love the top border, though like a picot edge, I can't imagine that they will stay up. But hey. It's pretty, right?

I failed to read the instructions completely before starting and guess what surprised me when I turned the page? A CHART! OK, I can manage a chart even though it was totally unexpected. When I came to the end of the pattern on the 2nd needle I discovered an extra stitch. I decided to carefully mark the chart with post-its and tackle it the next day. Although I'm a bonafide Midnight Knitter, I really shouldn't be trying to follow a chart at 2:30AM. How did I learn this lesson? Well, Friday morning after knitting a few rows on Mermaid before showering for work, the last hem gusset looked to me as though it was larger than the previous ones. "To the frog pond," I thought! "I'll do it tonight." That evening I decided to count the rows, and, lo and behold it was exactly the same as the others. Don't try to knit when you're half asleep!

Friday, April 28, 2006


Koigu Cirque du Socks

I met the Cirque du Socks deadline!

I learned a lot too:
Figure 8 Cast On
Turkish Cast On
Toe Up Sock Knitting
Improved short-row heel
Taking good pix might have been the hardest part, particularly when you're trying to take them of your own feet! (And they are the same length. The socks, that is!)

Koigu Cirque du Socks

Back to Mermaid...

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Ukrainian Plate, Project Spectrum

Ukrainian Plate, Project Spectrum.
I've completed the first of 24 squares for the Filatura di Crosa Shrug. I'm using Filatura di Crosa Zara in black. The yarn is wonderfully soft, but splits easily. Despite not having crocheted for years, I'm developing a rhythm including how to handle the hook in a way that avoids splitting the yarn. However, I've discovered that my gauge is way off. Judy, who does beautiful crochet, has kindly advised me to try a larger hook. I crochet as tightly as I knit, so I will try loosening my "hand" a bit too.
I aim to complete a square a day, and resume work on Mermaid after finishing the Cirque du Socks (I'm closing in the finish line, working the rib on the tops of the latter). Got a "sock bug" though, and I'm hankering (no pun intended!) to use the new sock yarn I've gotten lately: Cirque, from Sundara, Hawaii Joy from Brooklyn Handspun, and Regia Cotton Tip Top. I suppose there will always be a "sock in progress."

Monday, April 24, 2006

Sock Relief!

Pattern: Ballband Dishcloth, Mason-Dixon Knitting, finished April 24, 2006
Yarn: Sugar and Cream
Needles: US8 straights

Cotton takes forever to dry, but I had to have one when I saw them at the Mason-Dixon Knitting booksigning, and I'll make others because they're fun to make.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

My New Fave: The Turkish Cast On

I've kept an eye open for instructions for the Turkish Cast On since Saun mentioned it a couple of weeks ago. I found them in the Fall 2005 Vogue Knitting. I admit that I only glanced at them, thought I understood them, and in my obsessive way, began to work it.

I used a figure eight cast on with 2 DPNs for my first Cirque du Sock and found it unwieldy. The DPNs were too close together and the stitches kept slipping off the bottom needle. Still, I thought using two circs would be even more difficult. As it turns out, using two circs for the cast on was actually easier.

First, I put a slip knot on the bottom needle, then wrapped both needles with the yarn 10 times. This will give you 10 stitches on bottom and top; I wanted a broader toe, but you could wrap 8 times for the traditional 8 stitches if you like:

I moved the bottom needle so that the center of the needle - the cable - hung from the loops. This prevents the loops from slipping off the needle and the curve of the needles provides space to knit the top loops:

Then I knit the loops on the top needle. I didn't work the slip knot because I didn't want a knot in my socks:

I turned the work, slipped the slipped knot off the needle, and knitted the loops on what was the bottom row:

After knitting both sides:

I was going to use Bogie's instructions for a rounder toe after I cast on, but had to improvise after discovering that her cast on instructions were quite different from mine (I'll try it later -after all, this isn't my last sock!). Instead, I positioned the needles as if to work in the usual circular fashion, then
1st through 7th row: kfb in the first stitch, knit across to the last stitch on first needle, kfb, repeat on second needle, you will have completed the first round.
8th row: knit one round
9th row: kfb in the first stitch, knit across to the last stitch on first needle, kfb, repeat on second needle
10th row: knit one round
11th row: kfb in the first stitch, knit across to the last stitch on first needle, kfb, repeat on second needle
12th row: knit one round
13th row: kfb in the first stitch, knit across to the last stitch on first needle, kfb, repeat on second needle
14th row: knit one round
15th row: knit one round
16th row: kfb in the first stitch, knit across to the last stitch on first needle, kfb, repeat on second needle

If you initially cast on 10 stitches, you should have 64 stitches after the end of the 16th row. Knit the foot.

Here's my progress so far:

The toe is less pointy and the increase more gently rounded than my first sock. I think it will be more comfortable.

Hope my instructions are clear.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Socks on the Runway

OK, so I'm not going to be moderate about socks (or probably any other knitting)! Look at these interesting socks shown by Alexander McQueen in his Fall 2006 Ready-to-Wear collection (photos by Don Ashby; all photos here can be viewed on I like the cable work at the top of the beige ones. I would like to have seen the models "saunter" down the runway in these shoes.

Then there were Marc Jacobs sock fashions. Don't flame me Marc worshippers!

Not socks, but I just couldn't resist posting these shoes by Chloe.

Just some food for thought.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

"Mason-Dixon Knitting" and Reflections on Sock-Knitting

Had a great time at Stitch DC Thursday night at the Mason-Dixon book signing. Ann and Kay were funny and entertaining as usual, and their book, Mason-Dixon Knitting, is really entertaining and inspiring. There are so many great projects in it, their own and others, ranging from clothing to items for the house, including the washrags! I ran right out and bought Peaches and Cream to make one. I'll probably start it as soon as I'm done with my Cirque du Socks. As you've probably seen on their blog, they brought a number of finished projects with them, as well as projects on needles for the audience to knit if they didn't bring their own. I thought that was cute!

(PostScript: Discovered after I got home that I bought Sugar and Cream instead of Peaches and Cream. I have a feeling that they are completely different. Does anyone know?)

The Cirque du Socks are coming along well and quickly. Got a lot done at the book signing. I'm pleased with the chevron pattern that I chose for the leg. I wish it had occurred to me to use the pattern earlier so that I could have used it on the insole, but they will look fine as they are. I will probably modify the toe a bit on the second sock. I will cast on 8 stitches as I did before but will try to make it rounder following Bogie's instructions.

What is it about Socks that makes us knit more than we'll need in a lifetime? Just as I was about to explore this question, I found Rachel's posting in which she explains it far better than I can. I would only add that sock knitting also allows you to master new techniques and experiment with patterns, thereby giving you confidence when tackling larger projects. Sock knitting can become an obsession though. I haven't worked on Mermaid as much since I started the socks. Even as I write this, my fingers are itchy to wind Hawaii Joy so that I can start Pomatomus socks. I'm even tempted to join the new Pomatomus KAL even though I have other projects in the wings. Guess one my lessons in life is to learn moderation.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Short-Row Heels

I turned the heel on the Koigu Cirque du Socks. They're the best short-row heels I've done so far. On previous socks, I've knitted the wrap and the wrapped stitch together. This time I knitted the wrap and the previous stitch, which closed the hole. Perhaps I was supposed to do that all the long, but I just got it. The heel is a little pointy, but that is because I stopped short-rowing when there were eight stitches left on the needle. I'll leave more stitches on the needle on the second sock.

I think I'm going to knit a chevron pattern on the leg:

Multiple of 11:
Round 1: *K1, YO, K3, K2tog, SSK, K3, YO* Repeat between * * to end of round.
Round 2: K around

Sock Pattern (free): Elann's Sock it to Me toe-Up Chevron Pattern Socks.

Here's a fun meme I discovered on Cara's blog: do a Wikipedia search of your birthdate, minus the year; list three interesting events, three people who were born, and three people who died on that day. Here's what I found for my birthday:

1944 - World War II: The two-year Siege of Leningrad is lifted.
1973 - Paris Peace Accords officially end the Vietnam War.
1998 - American First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton appears on the Today Show calling the attacks against her husband part of a vast right-wing conspiracy.
1888 - In Washington, D.C., the National Geographic Society is founded.

1756 - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Austrian composer (d. 1791)
1859 - Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany (d. 1941)
1948 - Mikhail Baryshnikov, Russian dancer 1940 -

Isaac Babel, Ukrainian writer (b. 1894)
1967 - Crew of Apollo 1: Roger Chaffee (b. 1935) ,Virgil "Gus" Grissom (b. 1926) Edward White (b. 1930)
1972 - Mahalia Jackson, American singer (b. 1911)

Bellacara, one of my favorite cosmetics boutiques on King Street in Old Town Alexandria now carries Scott Barnes and Three Custom Color Specialists. Can't wait to get a Scott Barnes makeover. I've challenged every makeup specialists to give me a natural look, using the colors that match my skin tone, but none have really done it. Scott Barnes is known for that natural, neutral look. Can't wait to see what they can do. Three Custom Color Specialists will reproduce shades of discontinued makeup. I have a bunch of lipsticks I'd like reproduced.

Monday, April 10, 2006

I Love These Colors

This is from the MAC Cosmetics campaign at I'd love to have a sweater set in these colors, sans flowers. How could I knit the uneven striping effect horizontally? Guess I could chart it.

In case you don't know, there's a yarn sale at WEBS through May.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


Here's an update on the Koigu Cirque du Socks and Mermaid. Thanks so much to Dipsy, Auntie Amanda, Tawana, and Emmie for their encouraging words, and to Saun for her technical help and knitting tips. I've made many socks, but these are my first toe-ups. I'm a convert. It's great to be able to slip them on my feet periodically as I work on them. The figure eight cast on was awkward, but I realize that it will get easier as I do more of them. The socks just zipped right along after I had 20 or more stitches on the circs. Circs are great for commuting since you don't have to worry about loosing a needle in route. When I flew home to west Texas for Christmas last year, I dropped a double point between my seat and the fuselage. I found the slender needle in a crevice. It occurred to me as I was trying to grasp it that someone might think I was trying to ignite my shoe, but I just had to have that needle! I'll travel with circs from now on.

Mermaid is still progressing nicely. Since my last post I've added another hem gusset and an underarm gusset. It's knit sideways in garter stitch, and I don't think it will need much blocking, if any. I just love working the short-rowed gussets.

The Filatura di Crosa Zara that I bought on eBay arrived! I'm going to crochet a Filatura di Crosa shrug/capelet to go with a black and white floral skirt. The Cirque du Socks will be done by the end of the month, so I hope to begin and finish the shrug in time for the summer season.

I'll get a lot of knitting done during tonight's three hour "TV Night" of The West Wing, Desperate Housewives, and Grey's Anatomy. I'm so disappointed that The West Wing is going out with a whimper. I've waited for years for Josh and Donna to get together, but now that old chemistry is missing. And what's going to happen to Toby? Couldn't they have hired Aaron Sorkin for these final episodes?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Starting Cirque du Socks

Summoned my courage and started my Koigu Cirque du Sock Wednesday night. I worked my first figure eight toe on US 2 DPNs following Wendy's excellent instructions that I down loaded from Knitty. Wow! My fingers were so clumsy, but I got it done. Could NOT have done it on circs. I switched to circs after four rows. As I write this, I have increased to 24 stitches, 12 on each needle, but because the Koigu is such a fine-gauge yarn, the needles are still awkwardly close together. As a Cirque du Socks participant, I'm committed to using circs, but when I start another pair of toe ups, I'm definitely continuing on DPNs until I have at least 35 or more stitches cast on.

The top picture is of the first four rows. The second is of the toe forming.

Mermaid is resting tonight.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

"Leave the Gun. Take the Cannoli."

Indulge me. AMC is running two of my favorite movies: The Godfather I and II.

Mermaid is moving right along. Here's a picture:

I've joined Cirque du Socks. The goal is to learn to knit socks on circs, or if you already know how, learn a new sock-knitting technique while knitting on circs, by the end of April. Decided to join since I'm knitting socks anyway. And I love that little button. Very talented and clever artist. I'm going to rededicate the Koigu I bought at Knit Happens to the effort. It's kind of boring knitting it in stockinette, so I'll add a pattern to the leg. I've been procrastinating because toe ups look complicated, but I've been mulling over the instructions for a few days now, so I think it's time to dive in.

I returned to knitting several years ago after a long hiatus, thinking it would be cheaper to knit a pair of cashmere socks than buy them. A couple of surprises met me: 1) no matter how long the hiatus, you never forget how to knit - it's like riding a bike; 2) it was much cheaper to buy those cashmere socks! So imagine my surprise (again!) when I saw a tiny little knitted shrug at the new Barneys CO-OP on M Street in Georgetown for $228. The pattern was a simple, loose knit variation of a cable or wave. The yarn looked like Karabella Margritte and felt as soft. Maybe 3 skeins worth, if that. Margritte is expensive but nowhere near $228 for three skeins. I know there are many things factored into the price of an item besides the cost of the yarn, but still...

Yeah, it was cute. Unfortunately, I was too busy fondling the yarn and looking at the pattern to notice where it was made. I Googled the manufacturer when I got home but nothing came up, and it's not on the Barneys site.

I'd like to think that a hardworking handknitter somewhere is getting paid fairly for her labor. but somehow I doubt it. Be glad you can knit these items for yourself.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Charting Projects

It's 7PM already! I was up until 5:30AM blogging and got up at noon. I made coffee and added a few rows to Mermaid until I summoned enough energy to get off the couch. Couldn't have done that without Amy's chart. It's such an enabler! I mean, I just had to work an extra couple of rows even after I summoned the energy to get off the couch! She worked out each row of the pattern on an Excel spread sheet. It would be a great to do this for every complex pattern. That's a lot of work on the front end, but it makes the knitting go so much faster. And you wouldn't have to use notes and counters while you knit. One of my WIPs is a Michael Kors cardigan from the Fall 2004 Vogue Knitting. I haven't worked on it for a year (bad me!). The pattern contains so many simultaneous reductions and increases, that I don't remember where I was. Lost the flow, you know? I still love this classic pattern, but I'll have to frog it when I return to it. Had I worked out a chart I could just pick up where I left off. Anyway, I'll be at full throttle about 10PM when Grey's Anatomy comes on and it will be hard to go to bed afterwards. Monday morning will be cruel. I run an international exchange program for professionals and have a group to meet tomorrow morning, so I can't be late. I'll be there. Have only missed one or two due to illness.

I really shouldn't have bought this Anastasia Brow Powder. It's a great product, but it's too dark for me - didn't look that way in the store. I haven't used much of it, only touching it lightly with my trusty little Shu Uemura brow brush. Nordies will probably take it back, but I don't feel right doing that. Maybe I'll just sell it on eBay. By the way, Rowan, the Anastasia rep at the Pentagon City Nordstrom, did a great job shaping my brows. Told her that I only wanted the shape of my brows accentuated by removing just a few stray hairs and she did exactly that.

I'm really NOT ready for spring...


Knit all Friday night and good portion of Saturday on Mermaid. Pix to come later. I just wanted to see how the short rows formed the gusset. It's coming along nicely and quickly, not only because I've worked on it night and day, but also because of Amy's chart. Thank gawd for that chart! And thank you, Amy! I've got to slow down some (maybe work on a sock) or I'll be tired of Mermaid before it's even half finished. So between work and obsessing on Mermaid, I missed Flash Your Stash Day. However, I've seen most everyone else's and I feel better because I have a lot too. I'm not as organized as some - mine is beside the couch, under the bed, beside the bed, in my bedroom closet, in a tote bag, in a shopping bag, and in a couple of baskets. Forgot what I intended to make with some of it. But I'm keeping it anyway.

Thanks to Kittie for sending me the HTML code for a calendar. I just have to figure out how to insert it without sending my sidebar to the bottom of the page. I've spent just as much time tinkering with this blog as I have knitting. I'm new to blogging and do not know HTML. I've spent hours with it. As you can see I've changed the template and some text colors. I'd like to add a left sidebar and will change the name as soon as I can think of something I like. I'm building many new brain cells learning new knitting techniques and blog stuff and enjoying the process so it probably sounds strange for me to complain about having to come up with a title for every posting. What a pain in the ass!

Have to admit that I love looking at cat pix almost as much as knitting content. I don't have one myself, so my friend Niki sent me some pix of hers. Here's Serenity and Alexis. Aren't they cute?

While I'm on the topic of obsessions, I have to tell you that makeup is one of them. Right up there with handbags and shoes. I momentarily regretted buying some of the YSL cosmetics I bought at the Nordstrom Cosmetic Trend Show that I wrote about last month. Actually, I regretted spending the money. It sat in my train case for weeks while I debated whether to keep it. Put some eyeshadow on the other morning - I'd forgotten how lovely and subtle the colors are, and the mascara is to die for. The eyeshadow quartet is "Sienna," two shades of pink and two of brown. I bought Luxurious Mascara Volume Effet Faux Cils in purple. It was a pricey indulgence but it's really PURPLE, not aubergine like most others. (As some of you know, purple is my favorite color, and red is the other purple!) It's dark enough to wear to a conservative office. It doesn't clump and looks incredibly natural. At least I didn't buy the $108 night cream they tried to sell me. Nothing against expensive skincare, it's just that this working girl has to make choices. After all, I have my eye on some Artyarns Regal Silk for the Annie Modesitt Corset Tank Top. Was there a knitalong for that top?


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