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I’ve had the Louisa Harding Amitola Annwn scarf done except for two rows and the bind off for about 2 years. Yes, this is the height of procrastination. I just couldn’t seem to find the time to finish it.

Then Dartmoor Yarns on her blog dared me in her comment section to finish the endless WIP. Even as a child I couldn’t resist a dare and I haven’t, it seems, outgrown that even at the age of 63.

I present to you the finished Annwn Scarf.

louisa harding amitala scarf 2

louisa harding amitala annwn scarf 1

The scarf (she also has a wrap in the same pattern) is by Louisa Harding and knit in her yarn Amitola which is a wool and silk blend. Knit on US 6 (UK 8) 4 mm needles.

I love the way the cable balances the ruffled edge of the scarf. It really is an easy knit. I just ended up getting distracted by other projects. Thanks Dartmoor Yarns for helping me finish this!

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The Infernal Socks

I am currently working on what I call “the infernal” socks. They are my masochistic knitting project for this month.

rose rib socks knitt lace

They will be bed socks. The socks on the left are a photograph from the book Sock Knitting Master Class. The one on the right I just finished and haven’t blocked yet. The pattern is Rose Rib Socks by Evelyn Clark. They are finicky to knit.

First they are cuff down. I hate working socks that way. I am a toe up person. I could have altered the pattern to make it toe up but in the end decided to stay with the pattern as written. Mistake number one.

Socks that fit me best are ones without gussets. These have gussets. I hate working gussets in cuff down socks. Picking up gusset stitches is bad enough on its own. Add a dark yarn and night knitting and I need a klieg light and magnifying glasses to see the proper stitches to pick up. Once done, the stitches on the dpns are unwieldy and not evenly divided over the needles. This drives me nuts just looking at it.

Next come the dreadful decreases on every other row on both sides of the instep. I am famous for decreasing on one side and forgetting to do the same on the other. I have come up with a plan that helps me mark the points where the decreases need to be made at the time they need to be made but it is a lot of moving around colored stitch markers. I hate fiddling with stitch markers every row. The decreasing portion can’t go fast enough for me.

Then there is a small reprieve of straight knitting before I get to the toe and more decreases. This time I need to remember to decrease two stitches each side of the instep every other row. That’s a total of four chances in one row that I get to screw up. The stitches become less, the sock gets smaller and smaller, my knitting gets tighter and tighter and then I am left with an opening of 16 measly stitches through which I need to fit the entire sock so I can then Kitchener stitch the opening closed. For me, Kitchener stitch has endless possibilities for going wrong so I need to close myself in the bathroom where my attention won’t be disturbed by Yarn Rascal or The Skipper. Then finally the horrid little experience of making one sock is over with.

Did I tell you that the rose rib pattern is intricate? Eight rows of intricacy. No mindless knitting here. Even though I counted rows I somehow continually left out rows 5 and 6. To fix that I have to rip back to the start of the sock. There is no easy place to pick up stitches otherwise. I have never used  a life line when knitting socks but I am now using one for these.

I’ve started the second sock. I look forward to it being done.

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I’ve been on a knitting roll that is about to come to an abrupt end. The projects seemed to roll off my needles easily but now I am embarking on masochistic knitting projects and they won’t be flying off my needles so effortlessly.

The last of the knitting roll projects is finished.

log cabin gloves knitting free pattern

log cabin gloves knitting back side

These are a free pattern from Fringe Association called Log Cabin Mitts. They were fun to knit. The yarn is Shelter from Brooklyn Tweed in the colorways Iceberg, Tartan and Almanac. The second picture shows the front and palm of the mitt. They are sturdy and warm. The best knitting attribute is that the thumb gusset is a pleasure to work. No fiddly gusset here. I am studying the construction of the thumb gusset to see if I can adapt it to other mitts I might make in the future.

This morning I had a surprise visitor waiting for me on the back patio.

barred owl

It’s a Barred Owl. Although I have heard owls I have never seen one in the wild. This is my first. I was so happy. I snapped him with my phone camera, but wished I had my Canon camera to do him more justice. He’s a kind of cool persona. He let me come out and talk with him and he didn’t fly away or get upset. I’d love to see him again.

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If you love a big cozy shawl then Sprig of Hope shawl is a must knit.

sprig of hope hand knit shawl

The lace pattern is bold enough to be visible and not  get lost amid a yarn with multiple colors in it. I used Madeline Tosh DK with size US 8 (5 mm) circular needles. The colorway is Firewood. I loved the knitting and the lace edging is simple to follow. It is a delightfully cozy shawl and I love wrapping myself up in it on cold nights.

I would like to say that the knitting gods left me alone during this knit but that would not be the truth. When I completely finished the shawl and laid it out for blocking I realized I’d dropped a stockinette stitch. How I managed this is a wonder. It should have been immediately recognizable while I was knitting. But the gods had other plans.

Wanting to impale myself on my knitting needles I ran through the other options I had.  First, my perfectionist self said let the shawl dry then rip it back the full two-thirds to where the mistake was and reknit from there. This thought stayed with me for quite awhile as I stared at the dropped stitch. It turned what was to be a relaxing day into one where my blood pressure pounded at my temples.

Next came the small voice of sanity. Fix the mistake by using a crochet needle to weave the dropped stitch up and then securely sew the free loop to the back of the shawl. It took me all of 15 minutes to do this and the mistake is not visible from the front nor is the sewing obvious in the back. Even better, it is not a weak point in the knitting. I’ve been wearing the shawl often and it is still holding strong.

The next picture has nothing to do with the shawl. It is Yarn Rascal in his holiday bow-tie.

yarn rascal in holiday bow tie

What he is staring at is The Skipper who came in to the room holding a skein of merino yarn that Yarn Rascal hadn’t molested seen yet. It was to be one of his holiday presents. Let’s just say he got that particular present early.

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Good Sock Yarns

I’ve been down my rabbit hole lately researching different breeds of sheep and the wool they produce. I’ve been reading The Fleece and Fiber Source Book. It contains information on over 200 breeds of sheep and their wool. You see, I’ve discovered that the much heralded merino wool is not good sturdy yarn for socks even if it is blended with nylon. In short, it doesn’t wear well. It is not suited to the job. Then why, you might ask, do all fingering and sock yarns feature merino. That’s business ladies and gentlemen. The manufacturers sell you on what they know to be not up to the task so that it wears out quickly and SURPRISE you have to come back for more. Built in obsolescence.

I spend a lot of time knitting socks, especially for The Skipper. I hate it when I spend that much time on a project for it to last barely one season. Thus my search for better sock yarns.

I found that socks fall into three categories. The durable and hard wearing that are worn with boots or hiking shoes, the everyday ones worn with regular shoes, and luxury ones usually reserved for bed or times when you need comforting in your soul. Merino fits the last category and while it is often blended with nylon, nylon does not wear as well or as long as silk. So if it is a luxury sock that will be lightly worn go for a merino silk blend.

The softer the fiber the more pilling and wear will occur. In short it is more fragile. Merino falls into this category. I won’t bore you with micron counts or staple lengths or amount of crimp. But all three factors affect the sturdiness of a yarn.

If you are going for a boot sock Romney may be your best bet but with a few caveats. First, it easily felts. Second, it is not highly elastic. Third, the yarn is not super lofty. But for durability it is great.

Thinking of an every day sock? You have a number of choices: Bluefaced Leicester, Wensleydale, Leicester Longwool, Columbia, Polwarth, Corriedale, and Cheviot. Look for a tight twist with at least 3 plys. The tighter the twist the more durable the yarn.

Finally, the very last thing you should do with any hand knit sock is walk around the house in it without some kind of footwear on. Walking only in your socks causes greater wear and tear on the fabric than wearing them with shoes. Who knew?

 

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For all the joys of fiber work perhaps this is the most joyous of all. Go from raw fleece to a finished knit dress all in one day! Slow down my rapidly beating fiber heart.

First start with raw fleece. In order to pick out 100%  of the absolutely best fibers for this project lay out the entire fleece on the floor in the shape of the sheep. Select a small amount of fiber that has neither too much, nor too little crimp, is neither too close to the sunburned tips, nor too close to the butt. Make sure you know the orientation of your selected bit of fiber. It should go from tips to butt without including either of those things. Remember, we only need a thimble full of fleece.

Take down a measuring cup and fill it with hot water and a tiny, tiny dab of soap. Gently swish your little bit of fiber in the water by slipping in one end. Remove. Then slip the other end in. Remove the fiber and gently wring squeeze all water out of it. Let it dry by lightly swinging it through the air.

If you are arthritic, please take your arthritis medicine now.

Once dry use either a dog or cat flicker brush and with quick wrist snapping motions open the lock of fiber. Next get out your spindle and spin 1, 200 yards (1097 meters) of very, very, very thin thread the type of which even a spider would envy. Wrap your new thread into a teeny-tiny ball.

With 000000 # needles….ooh! Don’t have those? Not to worry. Take 4 match sticks. Don’t cheat and use the long ones for lighting fireplaces. With regular match sticks and a sharp razor blade gently plane them until they are round. Carefully remove match head while doing this. These are your knitting needles.

Now you are ready to knit this dress, with waist shaping:

tiny knit dress by jessie driscoll

While I am poking fun at magazine writing above, this is an actual tiny knit dress by the talented Jessie Driscoll. The pattern, yes there is a real pattern, can be found in Ply  Magazine

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And so it snowed. We received 7 inches (18 cm) last night into this morning. I am a snow lover so I don’t mind at all that our first snow fall was this early. Today it is melting.

Since the weather is this chilly, I thought it might be a good time to explain the references I’ve made to my haircut. I razored the back and the sides, leaving just a small very short amount on top. I did this for a number of reasons, not the least of which are the hot flashes I get from my breast cancer medication. The hot flashes are the worse right where I shaved off most of my hair. It does help not having a lot of hair in that area of my head. I also did it because I am tired of good hair days and bad hair days and having to spend time drying and styling it. I wanted to be free of all that. Finally, at 62, I feel the freedom and the power that comes from wearing what I want and not being dictated to by fashion magazines.

Because I am the shy type (painfully so), the pictures of my hair cut are not my face. The two pictures represent what my hair looks like as I had my stylist put together a detail from each picture.

The back and sides of my head look like this picture.

hair cut 2

Yes, shaved very close like that.

The top of my head looks like this:

haircut 1

Basically the cut is wash and wear. It’s cut so that it falls right into place. But because a good portion of the head is shaved, I do need to wear hats in the colder weather. So I added to my hat collection.

The recent hat I just finished knitting is called Shear by Brooklyn Tweed knit in Arbor colorway Sashiko.

shear hat brooklyn tweed knit hat

It was a fun hat to knit and I am enjoying wearing it. Arbor is Targhee wool, not neck soft, but I really like it for this hat. The pattern and suggested wool go together perfectly.

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