This is the evening I have planned:


The food is homemade crockpot stew and a glass of a yummy Moscato (I like girly wine, I know, not as classy as a Pino Grigio but sweet and yummy and mellow.)


My recipe for crockpot stew:


  • potatoes–as many as looks good, I usually get about 4 big ones
  • celery–one bunch
  • carrots–I buy a bag of baby carrots then add until it looks right and save the rest to munch on
  • pre-chopped stew meat–about a pound.  (I stock the grocery store for it to go on sale then freeze it so I can use it as I like.)
  • flour–about two handfuls
  • broth–48 oz (I use broth for all the liquid, if you’re worried about sodium you can do half broth, half water) chicken or beef, whatever is on sale


  • chop potatoes, throw them in crockpot
  • sprinkle handful of flour over potatoes
  • toss stew meat in
  • sprinkle with handful of flour
  • chop carrots and celery, throw them in the crock pot
  • add broth
  • set crockpot to low and leave it alone for a day (I usually do overnight to the next day’s dinner time)
  • eat stew
  • hide leftover stew from 6’10” brother who loves stew and will eat it all if given half a chance

It’s actually even better if you have the patience to take the stew out of the crockpot and throw it in the fridge for another overnight so it can thicken and the flavors can get all combined.  I can never wait.

As for the knitting, its a plain 64-stitch sock from the top down with a heel flap.  This is my favorite method of making socks.  I know all the benefits of toe-up socks and the short-row heel, but top-down are so darned charming.  I love everything about them.  I don’t much like ribbing, so it’s good to get it out of the way when the project is fresh.  I have enough stamina to make the leg as long as I want it.  With toe-up socks, I find I make shorter legs because I want the project to be over (and I skimp on the ribbing.)  Heel flaps are fun.  You get to go back and forth for a while rather than round and round.  Plus, if you do a slip stitch heel it’s more durable than the short-row heel because it’s double thick.  Heel flaps fit high arches better than short-row heels.  I have high arches.  Kitchner really isn’t that bad.  There, I said it.


The yarn is Boylston, one of the Yarnia house blends I picked up when I was working there.  It’s 50% Bamboo, 27% Merino, 23% Alpaca.  It’s comprised of one strand navy bamboo, one strand navy merino, one strand bright blue merino, and one strand gray heathered alpaca.  It’s definitely on the thick side for a fingering weight, my socks will be very thick–good for hiking or as “outside” socks to go over smaller socks in the winter.

Worth the wait

The last FO that resulted from my stress-filled finals studying are these beautiful socks.


These socks are made from the amazingly simple Air Raid pattern by Emily B. Miller.  It’s a free download on Ravelry.  The pattern is well written and easy to follow.  It’s got a chart and written instructions for the lace so you can work from whichever you’re more comfortable with.  I found that after the first half of the first repeat I had the pattern memorized and didn’t need to look at the chart any more.


As you can see these are definitely “fraternal” socks.  I thought I had the colors lined up (the pattern is worked from the top down) but I clearly did not.  The yarn comes in 50g balls so I used two.  I knit both from the outside of the ball, so it looks to me like at the mill one ball got wound with the colors going one direction, and the other in the opposite direction.

The yarn is Crystal Palace Yarns Mini Mochi in the creatively named colorway 101.  The colors really are as vibrant as they look in those photos.  I got the yarn an a 9″ Addi Turbo for Christmas/my birthday 2009 and cast on immediately.  Yes, that means these socks were on the needles for just under a year and a half.  I don’t know what it is that keeps me from finishing projects.  I just get distracted by the next new thing, then get distracted from that by the next new thing until finally I look on Ravelry and realize “holy crap, these socks have been on the needles for more than a year” and I suck it up and finish them.

I love knitting socks on the 9″ circs.  I have small hands, so the the short needle tip doesn’t bother me and I find that I can go round and round and round without thinking or stopping to move stitches or pick up a different needle.

This is the best I could come up with when Ryan said “pose like a model”…  A life of glamor I do not have.

Over all I’m completely in love with these socks.  The yarn is single ply so I’m a bit worried about how it will hold up over the long term, but it has a healthy nylon content so I’m hopeful.  The yarn was a bit think-n-thin as most single plys are, but nothing too terrible.  The colors are gorgeous and they are super soft.  Also, Portland is still mostly below 70 degrees so wearing them is still an option.  Wool socks after it hits 70 degrees loose much of their appeal, but below 70, bring on the wooly goodness.

2 years, 5 months, 11 days

Did you ever read the Wayside School books as a kid?  They were some of my favorite books when I was in the 3rd grade.  One of the stories features a girl who draws pictures really fast, faster than everyone in the class.  Sadly, a girl who drew slower always got more praise, even though she produced fewer pictures.  Complaining to the teacher about never getting praised, the teacher explained to her that when you take your time to produce something, it usually turns out better than something that’s been dashed-off with little thought–this is why master painters sometimes devote years of their life to a single work.  Leaving to go home for the day, the girl said she would draw a picture of a cat.  The teacher said he’d be glad to see it the next day.  The girl replied that this would be her masterpiece and she wouldn’t even be finished with one whisker.

Upon finishing a pair of socks that have been on the needles for… 2 years, 5 months, 11 days quite a while… That old story popped into my head.  I had taken… 2 years, 5 months, 11 days much longer than average… to knit a project that a normal person could finish in a few weeks (and a fast knitter could finish in under a week.)  I certainly wouldn’t call them a knitting masterpiece, but they’re not bad.


The pattern is Small Capitals by Charlene Schurch from the Sensational Knitted Socks book.  The book is great.  It’s basically a recipe book.  It shows you about 100 different swatches.  You pick the one you want.  Then the book gives you instructions for a bunch of different gauges/sizes so you can use pretty much any weight of yarn and come up with the right size.

Here is a close up of the pattern.  It’s a 12 stitch 8 row repeat and I was never really able to memorize the pattern (which may have been why these were left unworked for so long… I had to have the pattern with me at all times.)


(You can also see from the picture that the heel is a little baggy… That’s a product of the 12 stitch repeat, not as easy to size because you can’t just take out a repeat or two like you can with a 4 or 6 stitch repeat.)  The yarn I used is Noro Kureyon Sock.  The yarn is everything that the worsted Kureyon is–bold colors, knots that lead to colors in a completely different part in the color repeat, vegetable matter, and a very scratchy rustic feel.


Normally I would never pair a color changing yarn with a texture/lace pattern but the very long color repeats of the Noro allow the pattern to show up anyway.  I love the way these socks look.  To me they look like scales.  Even though the yarn is scratchy rustic they are nice and warm (we still haven’t crawled out of the 50s here in Portland) and my feet really aren’t that sensitive to the yarn.  I’m glad I knit these socks, I think they look great, but I will never knit this pattern again.  Ever.


(Yes, that is a dress with pockets.  Most awesome article of clothing ever.  I want an entire wardrobe of them.)

Backpack project

I like to keep a very simple project in my backpack all the time.  That way if I have a weird half hour block of time that’s not really good for working, I can pull it out and get some knitting done.  (Or if I’m really stressed, I can blow off steam knitting in lieu of studying, which strangely enough does reduce the stress.)  These backpack projects take a long time to complete because they only get a little work done on them at a time, they usually only get worked on on school days, and I don’t have spare time every school day.  My last backpack project was Ryan’s blue beanie and it took about a month and a half to finish.  Here is my new backpack project:


Please ignore the chipped toenail polish, it has not been sandal weather and so I have not been vigilant.  It’s a plain sock in a Yarnia house blend called Boylston.  This is an extremely popular house blend.  It’s one strand of navy bamboo (50%), one strand of navy merino and one strand of bright blue merino (27%), and one strand of gray alpaca (23%).  As you can see it makes a great dark heathered blue and is a color that could totally be used to make man things.  (I usually tag plain socks with the Yarn Harlot’s Sock Recipe pattern, even though I don’t really “follow” it, I just make a sock.  Cast on a number of stitches that seems reasonable, knit some ribbing, knit until I think the leg is long enough, flap heel, gusset, knit until 2″ before toes, shape toes.  Since this is basically what the Yarn Harlot pattern is, I tag it for convenience.)

I have several requirements for backpack projects.
1) It must be small enough to fit in the front pouch of my backpack.
2) It must not require me to look at a pattern, read a chart, or count rows/stitches.
3) It must be a pattern I can knit without looking; this includes garter stitch, stockinette stitch, ribbing,   and things like seed/moss stitch which are basically just ribbing so long as you know where to start.
4) There can’t be any shaping, and I should not have to pay attention to what row I’m on.

Given these criteria some projects can go from being backpack projects to not at various stages.  A project may start out small enough to be a backpack project then grow too big.  Ryan’s blanket was once a backpack project, now it takes up my whole living room floor.  A project may have a pattern or shaping only a certain times.  This project was in my backpack for the whole leg, but had to come out until the heel and gusset were finished because that involved counting rows and paying attention to decrease placement.  Now they’ll stay in the backpack until it’s time to shape the toe.  Do you have a take-everywhere project?


I finally cast off a project that has been on the needles for almost 18 months last night. I started my Mojo socks (pattern by Donyale Grant) when I fist moved into my apartment in August 2009. I got past the heel (they’re knit toe-up) of the first one and it sat forever. Then I decided to buckle down and finish them in the spring. I made pretty good progress, got through the first sock and most of the way through the second. Then, for no reason, I stopped working on them.


This is how they sat for almost six months. They’re so close to done! Usually when I get so close to the end of a project I get caught up in cast-off excitement and plow through to the end but not this time. They just sat. Finally, I pulled them out yesterday and knit the last 30-ish rows that were left.


The yarn I used was Regia Silk 4-Ply, which is 55% wool, 25% nylon, and 20% silk. They’re black so as to be manly and also function as dress socks. The yarn is buttery soft to the touch, but it pills like crazy. It started pilling on the ball just from being taken in and out of my knitting bag. I probably won’t use it again. Most pilling doesn’t bother me, and I’m quite comfortable using my sweater stone, but this was truly excessive.

The bind off on the first sock seemed tight (Ryan was able to get it over his foot but he did comment on its tightness) so I bound off the second one using Jenny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off which is exceptionally stretchy, but that’s why the two cuffs look different. JSSBO has sort of a ruffly look to it… Ryan didn’t seem to notice at all so maybe it’s just something only detectable to the knitterly eye.


I made these complete opposites. One toe is knit side out, the other is purl side out. The sock with the knit toe has a purl heel and the one with the purl toe has a knit heel. This means not only can each sock be worn on either foot, they can also be worn inside out. I’m hoping this will make them last longer since the wear will be distributed differently depending on how they are worn.

Happy 5th night of Hanukkah.

The estimation game

OK friends I have come up with a crazy game to play with myself to hopefully help me get some of those WIPs off the needs. Here is my plan: I am going to estimate how many days of knitting it will take to finish each of my WIPs. I will try to pick something that is a bit challenging but (hopefully) reasonable. For each WIP that I finish within the allotted amount of time I can spend $15 on yarn. That is a potential of $165 I would allow myself to splurge!

The rules:

1) I must knit some each day. If I don’t knit one day one of my projects will still have to take a strike.

2) Each day will be allocated to one project. If I knit on more than one project I will have to choose which one takes the day.

3) Any new cast-ons (with the one exception I will explain later) will not count. If I waste days playing with new projects I may have to give up getting some new yarn.

4) Finished means completely finished. As in off the needles, blocked, seamed, buttons applied, etc. Ready to be worn/used.

5) No money can be spent on yarn, needles, notions, ect. until this challenge is over, i.e. all the days have been used up.

My predictions:

1) First spinning attempt. I bought a drop spindle and some Targhee wool at sock summit last August and started spinning away. I actually got to the point where my spinning was pretty even but then I got distracted with school and didn’t pick it up for 11 months. Now I am at it again and am getting somewhat even results… For a first attempt I’m pretty happy. Anyway, about 1 oz. of the 3.8 oz braid was used in my thrummed mittens. The rest is on it’s way to becoming yarn. According to my Knit Picks yarn scale (so wonderful to have!) I have 0.78 oz left. I’m going to be a little generous with this one and give myself 5 days to finish since I’m so new to spinning. I think two days for spinning, two days for plying, and one day for washing, drying and skeining.


2) Op Art. I have four stripes left on this blanket. That sounds pretty manageable, until I think about how each stripe contains both more rows that the stripe before and more stitches per row. I’m going to push myself and give myself 20 days here. right now it’s taking me about 35 minutes to do one row. I’m guessing I have 60 hours left on this puppy so I’m going to have to give it 3 hours each of it’s days. This is going to be my biggest challenge.


3) Hope for Change socks. My oldest WIP to date. I love the way this pattern looks, it’s just not my favorite to knit. One sock is complete the other sock is about 2/3 up my instep (knit from toe up). I’m only giving myself 3 days to finish these babies. One day to get past the heel, two days for the leg and cuff.


4) Mojo socks. These are so close to being done I can taste it. I have 45 rows left. These get one day.


5) Yeah for Fall (Green Gable sweater). This went so quickly when I was working on it. I knit the whole body in about a week. I’m going to give it one more week. 3 days to finish the sleeves, 3 days to finish the yoke and hood, and 1 day for blocking.


5) Birthday socks (Air Raid socks). The first sock is finished. The second sock has one repeat of 6 done on the leg (knit from the top down). The first sock went very fast. There is no real reason these have taken so long other than they are my “purse” project and I haven’t had to wait very often (knock on wood). I will give these 5 days.


6) Selbu Mittens. One mitten is half done. These take complete attention because I have to follow the colorwork chart carefully. With school starting on the 30th complete attention is going to be hard to give. I’m going to be a bit lax with these and give them 14 days since full devotion will be hard to muster.


7) Baby Surprise Jacket. This will go quickly once I turn my attention to it, I have just been focusing on other things recently. I am giving this 3 days.


8) Victorian Scarf. Lace, like colorwork takes a lot of attention. Also, this project is pretty huge. I have 3 repeats of 42 done, plus the center panel, which is skinny but looooooong. I am going to give this project 18 days. That is 3 repeats a day for 14 days then 3 days for the center panel and 1 for blocking.


9) Pomatomous Socks. These are fun to knit but all of the twisted stitches are slow going for me. I am 1/3 through the leg (knit top down) on the first sock. I’m going to say 10 days for these socks.


10) Test Knit – Bashful. I can’t show you a picture of this one, but I’m test knitting a hat for Marly Bird aka Yarnthing on Ravelry. The hat is slouchy and DK weight but I can’t tell you anything about it until the pattern is released. So far all I have knit is the ribbing. I’m giving it 2 days since it’s a hat and hats are smallish quickish projects.

11) Test Knit – Whirligig bolero. This is a test knit for Stephanie Japel to help her up-size a pattern that was originally only in baby/toddler sizes. She is going to re-release it with bigger child and adult sizes. I’m testing one of the child sizes. It will either go to one of my cousins’ kids or to charity, but when the pattern is release I will have the adult sizes muahahaha. I haven’t actually gotten the pattern yet or my assigned size (supposed to come out today) but it has to be done within 3 weeks so I’m going to give myself 21 days.

That is 108 days to finish all my projects. That means on November 25 I will be done with this little adventure. That gives me one month to do any Christmas knitting I need… More than enough right…

WIPs march of shame (part five)

So close to the end of showing you all the shameful WIPs I have stashed in my knitting basket. This next one has actually been living in my purse for the past 8 months or so. It is supposed to be my “I have to wait project” so that if I’m ever somewhere with an unusually long line or am unexpectedly delayed for another reason I have knitting with me. The problem is, I haven’t really had to do much waiting lately. I’m not at all complaining about not having to wait, it just means this project doesn’t get a lot of love.


These are Air Raid Socks by Emily B. Miller. I have chosen to make my legs about twice as long as the sample sock because I think wool socks should be long. That is my personal preference since my legs are always freezing in the winter. The yarn I am using is Crystal Palace Yarns Mini Mochi in colorway 101 which is a rainbow.


This blog post would have to go on for miles if I were to accurately describe how much I love this yarn. The first thing I love about it is that it is a single. I know there are some people out there who absolutely hate to knit with yarn that is not plied, but I am not one of them. I love the way stitches look so plump when the yarn is not plied. Next, this yarn is SOFT. It’s a merino/nylon blend (which makes it perfect for socks) but it’s so much softer than other sock yarns. This yarn makes my feet feel like they have gone to heaven. Finally, the color. This yarn has such deep rich colors. The rainbow is very happy, which was much needed in December when I was buying the yarn, but I must have stood over the basket of this yarn in the shop for 20 minutes trying to decide which fantastic colorway to take home with me.


The pattern is also wonderful. I love how it adds some texture but doesn’t get lost in the colors of the yarn. It’s also very simple. I had the repeat memorized halfway through the chart. I am the tiniest bit worried that because this is a single yarn the socks won’t be as hardy as I need them to be, but that is a practical after-the-fact-type matter, and I tend not to think about those when I cast on. If there is some darning in my future, so be it.


Alright, so remember that whole “finish-two-projects-before-you-cast-a-new-one-on” thing I had going… well I might have fallen a bit off the wagon… It’s not my fault! I work in a yarn shop! Who has that kind of will power?!

Remember I told you that in the shop I work in you “make” your own yarn? Here is the what the result can look like.


I know it’s blurry, but I think you can get the idea. That yarn is actually 5 different strands of blue and green wool that have been coned together to make one fingering-weight yarn. This is one of our pre-made cones, meaning someone at the shop picked out the colors and we blended them together and are selling the finished cone. Here is a close-up of the different “ingredient” strands (again, sorry about the blur.)


I have been keeping the cone in my purse, taking it to work every day, in case the shop is very slow and I have some time to knit… It hasn’t been slow yet.

Here is a cone I “made” myself, as in I picked out the “ingredients.”


This cone has two strands of a pearl-colored rayon, one strand of creamy-white cashmere, and one strand of sage-green silk. It is just slightly heavier than a traditional lace-weight yarn but still far from fingering. I love how luxurious this yarn is. We sell our blends by the pound which is a pretty unique way to price yarn. This blend ends up coming to $72 per pound, but a pound of this fine yarn is about 2400 yards. I only needed 5oz to get the 750 yards I needed for my lacy scarf, which ended up being about $23.

I can’t possibly be blamed for casting on with both of these beautiful yarns right away can I? I thought not.

The sock yarn is becoming… yes, socks. I worked the whole cuff of the first one last night.


It’s impossible to tell since all I have is the twisted ribbing so far, but these will become Pomatomus by Cookie A. from the Winter 2005 Knitty. It is completely immaterial that I have three other pairs of unfinished socks already on the needles… Hush up! As you can see by the picture I’m knitting these on one small circular needle, which may now be my favorite method for sock knitting, no joins to worry about so no ladders ever.

The lace yarn is becoming… yes, lace. I have been in love with this yarn and this pattern since Sunday.


This pattern has a long-ass name, it is Scarf with the No. 20 Edging from “The Knitted Lace Pattern Book,” 1850 by Jane Sowerby. That whole thing is the name of the pattern, the pattern is actually in the book Victorian Lace Today. This is so soft and sheen-y and wonderful I spend equal amounts of time petting it as knitting on it. I love that even though three of the four strands are cream, the one strand of sage green tints the whole project.

This frenzy of casting on means that I have to finish 4 projects before anything new can be cast on… Wish me luck!

WIPs march of shame (part three)

This next project was started last August so there is some slim hope that they may be finished in less than a year. Slim, since for some reason I am extremely slow at sock knitting, but a hope none the less. I actually enjoyed knitting these socks while I was working on them, but problems kept arising. First, the cats chewed through one of my knitting needle cords, then they were too small for the intended recipient, then the intended recipient and I broke up so there didn’t seem to be a point to going back and fixing the mistake, then the cats got a hold of one of the balls of yarn and it’s a big old tangled mess that needs to be undone… So they sat unworked on.


These are Mojo Socks by Donyale Grant and the pattern is free. Lots of people on Ravelry have done this pattern in bright happy colors and it looks wonderful. Since I knew I would be making man-socks with this yarn, I decided to pick this funky pattern to make my knitting experience less hellish. I think I will attempt to give them to Ryan as he does not own a single pair of dress socks and has smaller man-feet (which means still huge since I’m used to knitting to a women’s 7.5 for myself.)

In other news, I’ve done a little stash enhancing lately. Something about summer always makes me want to spin. Something about knitting with wool is not so pleasant, but touching wool fiber isn’t as bad for some reason. My spinning is still very bad, I’d love to take a class but I only have a drop spindle and am afraid that if I rent a spinning wheel I will end up falling in love and buying one. Here is my stash enhancement:


This is 100% Superwash Blue Face Leicester from Woolgatherings. A sign in the knitting shop said it is the easiest wool to spin… This may have been a selling tactic, but it worked. I struggled a bit with the Targhee that I bought at Sock Summit last August. You will see what I produced in a later post.


This may never get spun as I can’t stop petting the fiber itself. This is 70% Alpaca 30% silk from Abstract Fibers and it is heaven. (Can you tell there is a certain color family I prefer? The other day, Ryan asked me, “why is all of your yarn pink?” I hadn’t exactly realized it, but I seem to have a penchant for buying yarn in the pink/red/orange family.) I hope this is easy-ish to spin because I really want to start, but it would be such a tragedy if I ended up with ugly yarn…


Just for good measure, and because I want to start right away and my other spindle is occupied, I bought a new one. It’s heavier than my other one so we’ll see what kind of yarn it produces.

Back to the WIP grind…

WIPs march of shame (part two)

OK, so I completed my Pioneer, and showed it to you last post, taking one WIP out of the list, a very good thing. I have made a deal with myself that for every TWO projects I get off the needles, I can cast on ONE new project. Theoretically, this should help me get all the old projects off the needles because even if I start and finish a new project, I’ll have to finish an old project as well to begin another new project… This is what I tell myself. Because I finished my clapotis and my pioneer, I got to cast on for something new. I chose something quick so that I would be forced to return to the old WIPs… aren’t you proud of me?


These are Aran Isle Slippers by Jennifer Lang. I made them from Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in the color Calypso Heather. I used just over one 50g ball, so they don’t take much yarn at all. The pattern is a bit fiddly because of all of the picking up stitches and seaming. The Wool of the Andes is pretty fuzzy for plain wool (no mohair) so the cable pattern doesn’t really pop out, but they do keep my feet pretty warm in my cold apartment. They are sized pretty small I think. The women’s size says it fits a 7.5 shoe size, which is what I am, but they are very snug.

That project was finished very quickly, and now I am forced to turn my attention back to the old WIPs. The next-oldest one I have to show you is mind-numbing and may break my will.


This is my OpArt Blanket and it’s only about 20% finished. It’s done completely in garter stitch and it gets bigger every round until there are 888 stitches in the last round. Right now, it’s taking me about 25 minutes to knit one round… It’s not even made out of good yarn. It’s made of cheap Caron One Pound acrylic that I wanted to use up. I love how this blanket looks, but the inanity of it may push me over the edge. Needless to say, this is not the WIP I am currently working on… More WIP shame to come soon.