Monthly Archives: December 2009

Just popping in…

to wish you all a belated Merry Christmas and a New Year full of peace, joy and blessings!!

I meant to do one last pre-Christmas post, but the weather meant we had to put everything on fast forward. I’ll be back in early January.

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I do knit a sweater from time to time…

Two, in fact.

Not that I just pulled these off in a few weeks. Both have been patiently waiting for quite awhile.

First up, Diminishing Ribs is done:
DSC07194

Lessons learned form this sweater:

1. Being afraid of a sweater being too small will result in a sweater that is too big.

2. Knitting to get the gauge you want doesn’t necessarily result in the desired drape. (I should have gone down a needle size.)

3. Knitting and blocking a gauge swatch will not always result in a perfectly fitted sweater. Knowledge of your yarn is a must as well. In this case, 100% wool and I would have been fine. But this combo of alpaca, silk and merino resulted in a heavier sweater with less memory. Hence the growth in blocking and wearing, and a sweater that is too big.

4. I’m not as cleaver as I think I am. Adding two stitches to each front edge as to have enough room to add buttons onto something that already has plenty of stretch just results in a sweater that overlaps too much. Duh.

5. Taking a photo at this angle is just a bad idea, especially after having three babies, since I seem to look somewhat inflated.

6. A shawl pin can fix a lot.

7. Despite the one size too bigness of this sweater, I am still about 85% happy with it.

Secondly, the Child’s Tibetan Jacket is finally done! (Those cheeks!!)
DSC07148

Poor Knittykid. This was meant to be his sweater. But summer came and I stuck it in the closet. Imagine my surprise when I pulled it out this fall (two years later!), nearly completed and just the right size for Spinner. He’s been living in it now that it’s finished.

Lessons learned from this sweater:

1. I really don’t like intarsia. Especially this much intarsia.
2. Putting a sweater away in the closet for while is not necessarily a bad thing.

Other excitement…mostly for the locals.

My part of Minneapolis has tended to be a bit of a void when it comes to fiber and textile supplies. I did always have a quilting shop close by, but that was it. I had a 15-20 minute drive for everything else. Then The Fiber Studio came, a mere five minute drive from my house. (She’s got Pigeon Roof now, BTW…)  I had quilting fabric and fiber at quick access, but that was it.

Now two more shops have opened up. Sewtropolis, a fabric and sewing studio that focuses more on clothing side of sewing,  and Steven Be, owned by the same guy who owns The Yarn Garage. Now I’ve got more fabric ten minutes from home and a huge yarn store just five minutes from my house. Yes, five minutes. I can walk there. Shocking, absolutely shocking.

So, for my local friends, two more places to check out when you’ve got the time. If you head to Steven Be’s, be sure to know that the entrance is around the back…it feels a little like a yarn speakeasy. I felt like I should have to say a password to get in. But once you go inside you’ll be welcomed and completely floored, it is probably one of the more beautiful yarn stores I’ve been in. Over at Sewtropolis, Nikol is warm and helpful. She’s got a great class list; I just signed up for the A-line skirt class yesterday.

Now, everyone wish me luck as I try to figure out my new toy this weekend!

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Book Reviews: Socks!

I’ve got a thing for sock books. Despite the fact that it seems that I don’t knit a lot of socks these days, I still can’t read enough of them. In fact, I seem to be drowning in all the sock books I’ve gotten from the library lately.  I’ll be doing a handful of mini reviews this month in case you, like myself, are wondering which of the many new sock books out there might be worth a splurge. Sure, we all know Cookie A,  Cat Bohrdi, Wendy Johonson…but what about the rest? I’ll try to give you a quick run down on some of the lesser known books out there.

So the book for tonight? The Big Book of Socks, by Kathleen Taylor.

I really liked Kathleen’s felting books, so I was excited to see what she came up with for this book. For the 75 patterns alone, it’s a great deal, but is it really the ultimate guide??

I’d say she came pretty close, and the one exception might be more a mistake of the publisher rather than than author. There really is a bit of everything in here: basic tube socks (for those afraid of the heel), afterthought heel, flap and gusset heel, no wrap short row heel, tow down, toe up, stripes, cables, lace, fair isle and some “just for fun” projects.  It’s a nice progression from basic to advanced, although I would say that the majority of the projects lean towards the advanced beginner or intermediate knitter.

Paging through the book, I saw quite a few patterns I liked right away. She has a nice mix of  yarn weights with quite a few worsted patterns, nice for this time of the year when you might want to pound out a couple of pairs of quick socks for gifts. The Striped Knee Highs are cute, and I’m in love with the Argyle Socks. The lace patterns she has are not too complex and would be good for an advanced beginner ready to beef up her skills a bit. Kathleen’s fair isle socks are my favorite. The Mosaic Tile socks are stunners and the Holiday Garland socks would be nice this time of year. The thrummed slipper socks are a perfect quick Christmas knit.

So far so good, so what’s the problem?? I’m a very visual knitter. The first time I tried to knit a sock I had nothing more than the written directions. And it was a disaster. It wasn’t until I came across a book that had very clear pictures that I understood what the heck was going on with this whole heel turning thing. And that’s the mystery of this book. Despite the fact that it starts with something as basic as a tube sock, it is completely lacking in instructional pictures. There is one teeny-tiny drawing at the beginning diagramming the socks parts. But there is not one picture or diagram to walk you through a heel turn and that’s the trouble. I kept thinking, “there must be diagrams in here somewhere…” but nope, all you get is that little diagram in the beginning. Even the chapter on heel and toe variations in the back lack pictures. This might be okay for a knitter who knows the basics and just needs to read through the directions, but a novice knitter would be pretty lost. You do get one photo of each sock and charts, but that’s it.

Now granted, it does bill itself as a “beyond the basics” guide. But then why the tube socks? And all the detailed the directions on heels and toes? I felt a bit like the book didn’t quite know what it wants to be: the progression of pattens makes it a good candidate to be a great basics book, but the lack of detailed diagrams truly turns in into “beyond the basics.” But as I said in the introduction that could have been a publisher choice as well. In a nutshell, if you’re looking for a wide range of lovely patterns all in one book and you have some skills, this one’s for you. If you’ve never knit a sock, you’d be better to find a different book to start with and come back to this one later.

Who this book is for:

  • The budget conscious knitter who wants a ton of socks patterns.
  • An advanced knitter with knitting experience but no real sock experience.
  • A knitter who enjoys knitting socks in a variety of weights, from fingering to some speedy worsted weight socks.

Who this book is not for:

  • A very beginning knitter
  • A highly visual knitter
  • A knitter who prefers all her socks to be a fine weight.

I’ll be back in a few days with a review of The Joy of Sox. And a new Spinner sweater to share.

Enjoy your weekend!!

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