Yoga Socks Off the Needles

June 10, 2018

These little non-sock socks really shouldn’t have taken as long to knit as they did, but there you go. Sometimes life (and knitting) is like that.

The yoga socks are off the needles and into the sink for a bath before blocking (really, just drying).

 

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Fiddly Sticks

June 9, 2018

I’m a big fan and regular user of double-pointed needles (DPNs), especially for socks because then I don’t need stitch markers, but I completely understand how daunting they can appear to knitters and non-knitters alike.

“Fiddly” is the word I use when explaining DPN use to my knitting students. To be sure I’m using it correctly, I looked up the definition: “complicated or detailed and awkward to do or use.” Or, as the good folks at Merriam Webster say, ” requiring an annoying amount of close attention.” Annoying. That sounds about right.

(As an aside, if you’re on Twitter, you really must follow Merriam Webster. You’ll learn and you’ll laugh — and really, couldn’t we all benefit from more of that?!)

At last week’s Knit 101 class, Lisa learned to pick up and knit sleeve stitches using DPNs. And, true to the definition, she found it (annoyingly) fiddly.

“Aaargh, I can’t do this,” she exclaimed after her first stitch. Her first stitch!

DPN-first-try

I encouraged her to breathe and try another stitch, reminding her that she was only knitting with two needles. The other two needles, dangling nearby and holding 2/3 of her stitches, were just hanging out, waiting until she finished with the stitches she was working.

As you can see, she got the hang of it pretty quickly and finished wee sleeve #1.

Baby-sweater-sleeve

Since baby’s arms are so short, a short sleeve was in order. Wish I could remember the yarn she’s using. Isn’t it fun? I’ll look it up and will update soon.

In other DPN news, I’ve started the sleeves on the Sunshine Coast sweater. Now that the warm weather has finally arrived here in the Boston area, it’s time to get this finished.

Sunshine-coast-sleeve


Since You Asked

June 2, 2018

Apparently my description of the yoga sock as a sock “without the fun-to-knit bits” wasn’t particularly helpful. Or at least it didn’t provide a clear enough visual image. So here’s the finished one in action (that is, on my foot, which is not practicing yoga).

knit yoga sock

After this morning’s knitting class and lunch with Mom, we’re off to Rhode Island for a cousin’s wedding. I’m hoping to see the newest member of the extended family, who was born three weeks ago. She’s not yet big enough for the Wee Penny dress, but she’s just the right size for herself!

What are your plans for the weekend?


Slow Yoga (Sock Version)

May 31, 2018

Part of what I love about knitting is the opportunity to try something new — a new stitch pattern, like entrelac, or a new technique, like putting in a lifeline and ripping back to fix a mistake.

A year or so ago, a pattern for yoga socks caught my eye. I’m a big fan of sock knitting and practice yoga somewhat regularly, so I figured it’d be a good fit. After I finished my most recent pair of socks, I cast on the yoga socks as my traveling knit project.

If you’re wondering what yoga socks are, they’re basically socks without the fun-to-knit bits — that is, without the heel or toe. You might think that they’d knit up really fast, but I’m finding them kind of slow going.

I’m almost never knitting only one project at a time. Having a small project that I can tuck into a bag and take “on the road” is a must-have. Just after I cast on the second yoga sock last week, I worked a few rounds while taking the subway into downtown Boston where I was leading a two-day social media marketing course (one of my day jobs!).

yoga-sock-start

Over the holiday weekend, all five of us were together at our rustic, quirky, old island house. The weather was gray and somewhat chilly, so we spent time near the fireplace in the unheated “barn,” playing cards and Scrabble, reading, napping, and knitting.

yoga-sock-barn

While I love the colors of this yarn — Schoppel Wolle’s Zauberball Crazy (Malerwinkel colorway) — I’m finding it somewhat hard to read . Or perhaps I need a new pair of reading glasses!

I got a few more rounds done while waiting for Michael to get four wisdom teeth extracted. I love how knitting absolutely transforms waiting time.

yoga-sock-knit

 


Yarn Bomb Redux

May 30, 2018

It’ll come as no surprise to long-time readers that I’m a fan of yarn bombs — or public fiber art (or is it fiber public art?). I don’t post every one that I see. I mean, who has the time? But every once in a while, I’ll find one that’s post-worthy, like the gorgeous bike outside Fibre Space in Alexandria, VA, or the amazing creations along the boardwalk in Saltburn-by-the-Sea in England. Sometimes I’ll share on Instagram.

And then there are the few yarn bombs that I’ve helped to create, especially the street sign outside our house that still makes me smile.

Some of you may recall last spring’s city-wide art initiative at a nearby lake when some young knitting students from a nearby after-school program and I  “wrapped” a bike rack.

yarn-bomb-installation

The project continued this spring with some additions to the lake area. I didn’t contribute anything to this effort and am still holding out the hope that the cover I envision for one of the barriers may someday become a reality. Fortunately, several other Fearless Knitters already have. Aren’t these fun?

Lake-pillar-yarn-bomb

Lake-pillar-yarn-bomb2

After the winter snows and rains, the bike rack is a bit worse for wear, faded in parts and coming apart at a few seams. But it still makes me smile.

Faded-yarn-bomb-bike-rack

If a yarn bomb catches your eye, please let me know — email or tag. I’d love to share.

 


More Sunshine than I Thought

May 18, 2018

As I’ve mentioned a few times, progress on the Sunshine Coast sweater has been slow although it’s been moving a bit faster now that I’ve got the pattern memorized. There are 12 stitch markers, which was a bit daunting at first. I think part of why it feels so slow-going is the way it “sits” on the needles. This is my usual view.

Sunshine-coast-plane

That’s a heck of a lot of stockinette stitch. But now I realize that the subtle details that first drew me to the pattern are what make it interesting to create: The occasional eyelets that run down each side and the five that sit just below the neck edge. And the gently tapered side panel that adds a bit of visual interest.

Sunshine-coast-side

Since I hadn’t measured the length since I separated the sleeve stitches from the body, I hung it up to get a good view. I’m delighted to report that I’ve only got a couple more inches to go.

Sunshine-coast-body

Of course, I’ll then have to pick up the armhole stitches and make the sleeves — two of them! But at only about 1/4 of the stitches as the body, they should practically knit themselves. Right?

 

 


LYS visit: Fibre Space

May 17, 2018

During our visit to Alexandria and Washington earlier this month, I slipped away for an hour to visit Fibre Space, just a few blocks from Chris and Karen’s. The first clue that this is not an ordinary local yarn store can be found outside, where several sheep and a yarn-bombed bicycle mingle on the brick sidewalk.

Fiber-space-bike

Inside is equally as charming and color-filled, with sassy mannequins bedecked in a variety of handknits. Who doesn’t love a bright red yarn-bombed animal (deer? sheep with deer antlers?) overlooking a room?

Fiber-space3

As often happen when I’m surrounded by miles of luscious yarns, enticing sample knits, thousands of notions, and all kinds of knitterly goodies, I was almost overwhelmed and unable to make a decision. Maybe some Skinny Singles sock yarn from Hedgehog Fibres? How can you go wrong with beautiful sock yarn?

Fiber-space2

“But you’ve got at least five or six skeins of sock yarn at home,” my stash-controlling alter ego reminded me. Maybe something a bit heavier? The “big wheels” of Hazel Knits DK were mighty tempting, but I’m not in the mood for a shawl or sweater, especially since the Sunshine Coast is moving along so slowly.

Fiber-space

Since yarn is my go-to souvenir when I’m traveling, I focused my purchase energy on local products. A wall of Neighborhood Fiber Co. skeins caught my eye. The company is based in Baltimore, about 50 miles away (which counts as local for me). The colorways are named for neighborhoods in Baltimore and also in Alexandria and Washington.

Neighborhood-fiber-yarn

When we lived in Alexandria more than 20 years ago, we lived in the Del Ray neighborhood. While I was tempted to buy a skein of the “Del Ray” colorway out of sentimentality, I’m really not a fan of yellow tones (at least, not for me — and really, that’s who it’s all about). Instead I chose a skein of superwash merino in blue-black Old Towne East.

While the supremely helpful shop staff assisted another knitter, I just had to peruse the “accessories” conveniently displayed near the register. A project bag from Chicken Boots (Charm Keeper model in Big Kitty) caught my eye — just-right size with a see-through bottom and a handy carry strap. How could I resist?

Fiber-space-goodies

I have no idea what I’ll make with 400 yards of this lovely yarn. I’m guessing it’ll become a hat or maybe a pair of mittens. What do you think?

 


Back to the Old Stomping Grounds

May 8, 2018

I’m regularly surprised by how long it’s been since we moved from the Washington, DC, area. I know, I know, “surprising” probably isn’t the right word if I keep doing it, but really — 21 years?!

We’ve been fortunate to maintain friendships by visiting once a year or so and seeing friends whose travels take them to the Boston area. And then there’s our wonderful family — my brother Chris, sister-in-law Karen, their two teen daughters and pre-teen son. The best fringe benefit of my eight-month interim management gig at a DC-area organization last year was my weekly visits to their home. Plus the rates and amenities were unbeatable!

Patrick and I flew down early Friday morning after snagging same-day tickets (released online at 6:30am) to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Like all great museums, there’s no way to experience it in a day (even an entire day) and you could return again and again and come away with new knowledge and inspiration. And probably sore feet, which you could rest alongside the water at the entrance.

NMAAHC

While on a morning walk through our old neighborhood, I was lucky enough to bump into an old long-time friend and former co-worker. Since he was heading out to walk his dog, we walked together back to Chris and Karen’s, sharing news of spouses, children, his brand new grandchild, professional endeavors, with only a bit of shared dismay at the state of what passes for political “leadership” today.

KMB

Patrick and I won the aunt-uncle lottery (albeit with no competition) and took the kiddos on a field trip to National Harbor for a few hours on Sunday. Nothing educational; just walking about. Since we’re not their parents, we said “yes” to nearly everything they expressed interest in. There’s a candy store? Let’s get a bag or maybe a chocolate covered Oreo. Ice cream? Absolutely. Nail polish that changes color in the sunshine? Who would be without it?!

There’s a fair bit of public art — statues, like this one of Henry Ford, which A. enjoyed mimicking.

Natharbor5

The little kids’ play area included less historic, if slightly more creepy, sculptures.

Natharbor

A giant sculpture of a giant, The Awakening, had been moved from its original site along the Potomac in D.C. to a human-made beach at National Harbor, where its various parts are explored by young and old alike.

Natharbor2

Four times around on the giant Ferris wheel gave plenty of opportunity to watch planes heading toward the nearby airport, gaze down at the marina and shops, speculate that it’d be a great place for an action movie scene, and wonder if you could survive a jump into the harbor from this height.

Natharbor-wheel

Natharbor3Natharbor4.JPG

Some day I hope to be able to take a selfie with Patrick in which we don’t look dopey, but for now, what you see is what we get.

The Sunshine Coast sweater got a bit bigger on the two flights, but you can’t really tell from this picture. Interspersed among the inches of stockinette stitch there are some lovely, subtle details. You’ll have to trust me on that for now.

Sunshine-coast-plane

Another highlight of the weekend was my visit to Fibre Space, a wonderful LYS that’s only a few blocks from Chris and Karen’s house. Stay tuned for that post later this week.


Bursting Out All Over

May 3, 2018

Spring has been a long time coming here in Greater Boston with last month’s temperature averaging a cool 55F (13C). If yesterday’s weather is any gauge, we’ve had the shortest spring on record and have jumped right into summer — sunny, dry, breezy, and a hot 88F (31C). I figure we’ve earned it and have vowed not to complain regardless of how much I’m sweating.

Mom and I took advantage of the day with a visit to the Arnold Arboretum, an urban treasure in her Boston neighborhood. We parked on the street and climbed the path past a Revolutionary War burying ground. As you’d expect in an arboretum, all the trees are labeled so you needn’t keep saying, “I wonder what kind that is.”

AGH-arboretum

We discovered that we were in the honey locust collection although there were other trees nearby — some buckeyes and some other specimens that I promptly forgot!

Agh-arboretum2

The “summit” of Peters Hill includes many granite slabs that serve as welcome resting spots from which to marvel at the Boston skyline.

Arboretum-boston

Since she’d closed the window shades before heading out, Mom’s apartment was refreshingly cool. She’s started a new knitting project, a garter stitch scarf (or maybe it’ll be a neck warmer) made from some luscious Malabrigo Rios that she got at the grand re-opening of JP Knit & Stitch.  If you’re visiting Boston and looking for a LYS, it’s a definite must-visit.

Malabrigo-rios-garter-stitch

I’m still alternating between the Sunshine Coast sweater (photo soon) and the yoga socks. On a work conference call earlier this week, I worked a few rounds in between comments and note taking. Ah, the benefits of being a freelancer!

Yoga-sock-laptop


Spotted at the Miami Airport

April 26, 2018

I love when friends send me photos of yarn bombings or other public displays of knitting that they’ve seen on their travels, near or far. Kathe was passing through the Miami Airport earlier this month and came across Knitting as Poetry: Reflections on the Natural Environment in a corridor gallery.

First, can we acknowledge how cool it is that the airport has art exhibitions? Miami isn’t the only airport to do so, but it’s worth reminding ourselves that public art enriches our lives — and, when it’s in an airport, provides a diversion from the long waits inside terminals.

knitting-as-poetryThe artist, Evelyn Politzer, is a native of Uruguay, so it’s only appropriate that the exhibition is supported by malabrigo, a family-owned yarn company in Uruguay.

politzer-miami-airport

Described as “suggestive of aqueous elements,” these droplets are “a reminder of the importance of water conservation, a major issue in Politzer’s immediate community [of Miami].”

Politzer-miami-airport-2

These looser, less contained creations are described as “tender and sensual, their color range suggesting warmth and nurturance.” I can see that.

What public fiber art or yarn bombs have caught your eye? As I did last year, I’m working with our local cultural arts organization on a yarn bombing project. More on that in an upcoming post.

I’ve recently started some yoga socks — basically, socks without the heel and toe (aka the fun bits!). It’s my traveling project, seen here at Mom’s hair salon.

Yoga-sock


Back to the 60s

April 18, 2018

As a change of pace from our usual walk into the square for marketing, errands, and lunch, Mom and I took a field trip to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Perched on the edge of Boston Harbor, it’s a beautiful, powerful, exhilarating, and somber place to spend a couple of hours.

JFK-agh

I’m sure the thousands of school children who visit each year take some comfort in learning that young Jack was far from a good student. As these letters show, he was determined to do better, and his father expressed confidence that he’d turn out OK. Ha!

JFK-school Having grown up in Massachusetts in a politically active family of Catholic Democrats, Mom feels a kinship of sorts with the Kennedys. The politics of the 50s and 60s are vivid in her memory — in part, because she was so politically active herself.

JFK-convention

Watching parts of Kennedy’s speech at the 1960 Democratic Convention prompted snippets of her own participation at the 1972 Convention, when she chaired the Foreign Relations platform committee — a lively topic (to say the least) in 1972.

I love these Get Out the Vote ads. “Sure you’re busy — but…”

JFK-vote

No presidency is perfect, but the belief that the government has a vital role to play in building a better society for all that undergirded the Kennedy administration touched my heart again — especially in contrast to what passes for our current political leadership.

JFK-speech

In knitting news, I seamed Mom’s Wham Bam Thank You Lamb neck warmer while we waited for our lunch at our favorite bakery. Looks pretty spiffy, don’t you think?

Agh-neckwarmer

I’d like to think she can put it away until next winter, but given the wacky weather we’ve been having, she may need it this month!


Power of Memory

April 11, 2018

The warm detergent-scented air, steady rumble of washers and dryers spinning, metallic jingle of the change machine, fellow customers folding, chatting, reading. It’s been nearly a decade since I’ve been to a laundromat, but not much has changed.

As often happens when I knit in public, my project (Second Sock) sparked curiosity and conversation. As she folded several baskets of clothes, the owner told me about her mother’s crochet and sewing skills.

Knit-laundromat

A 20-something woman said that she’s been thinking of learning to knit, partly to do something creative and also to break her habit of defaulting to her phone. I told her about a couple of local yarn stores that offer lessons and, as I left, encouraged her to follow through: “you’ll never regret learning to knit.” Hope she does.

My first knitting teacher and I have been spending a lot of time together this winter, walking from her apartment to the village market and/or our favorite lunch spot or thrift store several times a week. We’ve watched lots of Celtics basketball and have welcomed the start of baseball season, which provide plenty of knitting opportunities.

Last week, Mom expressed interest in knitting again, so we pulled out the simplest of her several works in progress (WIPs). After the briefest of tutorials, her muscle memory kicked in, and she was on her way!

Mom-knitting

 


New Knitter Pride

April 4, 2018

Some WIPs (works in progress) on a Wednesday: Not all of the students in my Knit 101 class are true novices, but every month or so, a brand new knitter walks through the door. Chris and Justin are the most recent, each with their own motivations for learning a new craft.

Ten-year old Chris arrived with his mother, a non-knitter, a few weeks ago and explained he thought knitting looked cool. Yup, you read that right. While he’s got a goal of making a sweater someday, he started with a practice swatch in garter stitch and last week learned the purl stitch. His concentration and quiet pride warm my heart.

New-knitter.jpeg

When Justin walked through the door, I thought he was looking for directions to someplace else! He’s not your typical Saturday morning knit class member: a male, accountant in his late 20s.

His motivation for learning to knit? He resolved to learn 10 new things this year. How cool is that?! So far, he’s learned to bake bread and play golf (at an indoor range until the snow melts). When summer comes, he wants to learn how to water ski. His knitting goal is socks for his girlfriend but, like Chris, happily — and very conscientiously — dived into knits and purls.

Novice-knitter.jpeg

After completing her son’s hat, Louise is working on a scarf (the pattern name escapes me at the moment) in a beautiful variegated yarn. She’s been perusing sweater patterns, so it’s likely she’ll add another project soon.

Louise-scarf.jpeg

Jacqui recently returned to class after a winter hiatus and has cast on a hat. Before she joins the stitches in the round, I encouraged her to knit an inch or two flat, so that it’ll be easier to join without twisting. The subtle color shifts in this Madeline Tosh yarn are exquisite.

Jacqui-ribbing.jpeg

I’ve been spending most of my knitting time with the second sock. I’ll get back to the Sunshine Coast one of these days. What’s on your needles?

Sock2


Traditions and travels

April 2, 2018

The house is quiet again as Kevin and Michael left this morning via plane and car after being home for the past few days.

As is my tradition, I baked the lamb cake, using the metal mold bought by my Mom more than 60 years ago in Boston’s North End.

I tweaked the recipe a bit – adding the zest of one lemon to the batter, which is similar to pound cake so the cake can “stand up.”

After morning Mass, we brunched at home, and I finished the cake while the boyos cleaned up.

Since it was a beautiful spring day and we had a couple of hours before we were due at my brother’s house for dinner, we headed to our favorite quick, local hike.

Recent snow melt made the trail mucky in parts, but we didn’t care a bit. As always, tossing a football along the trail was mandatory.

The tower at the summit was open again after being closed for repairs when we were there for the family Thanksgiving Day hike. Beautiful views of Downtown Boston and the harbor.

Easter dinner at Luke and Mary’s was delicious and the conversation lively. As usual, the lamb cake platter was graced with eggs decorated with colored paper, including photocopies of photos and tissue paper. Most were made by my late in-laws and some are nearly 20 years old.

After second helpings and another sliver of cake, we headed home to close out the evening — and the boys’ visit — with a friendly yet competitive game of pinochle.

The sock and I observed.


Some Things are Never Finished

March 24, 2018

When my children were very young, I didn’t knit much. I thought I didn’t have enough time, which is bizarre because there’s the same amount of time in Every. Single. Day. If I’d been honest with myself, I would have realized that it wasn’t a matter of time; it was my perception of time and my very real reality of seemingly all-consuming busyness.

My mind was shifted by a single comment from a wise neighbor to whom I’d shared the desire to knit but didn’t have time: “When you’re raising a family, running a home, and working at your job, you might find that it’d be nice to actually finish something.”

How very true. So much of daily life is repetitive or ongoing — cook a meal, wash the dishes, wait a few hours, and do it again. Wake up, rally the troops, get everyone out the door (fed, dressed, and as put together as possible), then do it in reverse in each evening. And again. And again. For years, decades even.

One of the joys of knitting is finishing. In fact, I consider finishing the primary goal of a new knitter’s first project. That’s why I recommend a dishcloth as a first project and definitely not a scarf, which can take an eternity.

With that thought, I’m pleased to report that Sock #1 is finished.

Sock1-done-roving

Since I’d not been happy with the bumpiness of my previous sock toe grafting, I paid extra attention to my Kitchener stitching. This is an improvement over my earlier toes.

Sock-toe-kitchener

Part of my desire to finish the sock was my seemingly slow progress on the Sunshine Coast sweater. The slower pace isn’t surprising since it’s now up to about 250 stitches per round.

Sunshine

On the home front, dear Michael is home for a week’s break. Since he arrived at midnight and will likely sleep a solid 12 hours, I won’t see him until this afternoon, after Knit 101 class and the Boston March for Our Lives.

Being a parent or a child is a role (not really an “activity”) that doesn’t feel like it’s ever finished — at least, if you’re as lucky as I am, not for many, many decades.


WIP Wednesday: Socks and Sunshine

March 21, 2018

Having lived most of my life in New England, I’m accustomed to cold, snowy winters. I generally try to avoid the broadcast and social media hoopla that surrounds storm predictions and round-the-clock coverage during the actual “weather events.”

My attitude generally is “It’s winter. What do you expect?” Does it really matter whether the wind gusts that knocked out the power were 40 or 75 miles per hour? The difference between six and 12 or even 22 inches is significant from a shoveling perspective, but really it’s just a hell of a lot of shoveling.

Like probably everyone else in New England (and probably most people from here to Washington, DC), I’m ready for today’s storm to winter’s last gasp — especially since Spring began yesterday!

Enough about the weather. Here’s what’s on my needles these days. The toe of Sock #1 is nearly finished (Done Roving “Frolicking Feet”). I’m going to modify — or at least pay closer attention to — my Kitchener stitch grafting of the toe in an attempt to avoid the bumpiness of my previous sock toes.

Sock-toe-shaping

I can’t decide how I feel about the Sunshine Coast sweater yet. We’re still getting to know each other. (Perhaps it’s mutual.) Progress is slow and feels a bit painstaking. I find myself looking at the pattern several times during each pattern round. Hoping that changes over the next couple of inches.

Sunshine-coast-yoke

I love the bright Spring green yarn.


Knitting Inside Out

March 20, 2018

Has this ever happened to you, dear knitter? You’re knitting in the round, perhaps on your first hat, and suddenly something doesn’t look right at all. You’ve unintentionally created a band of bumpy reverse stockinette. That’s what happened to Helena, one of my Knit 101 students at Stitch House.

Inside-out-knit-hat

In my experience teaching knitting, it’s not an uncommon mistake for a novice knitter to make. So how does it happen and, most importantly, how can it be avoided?

This “inside out” knitting is the result of unintentionally knitting on the inside of a circular project. The knitter picks up the project and continues knitting across the project.

Inside-out

A closer look shows that the working yarn — the yarn connected to the ball or skein — is on the last stitch on the left needle, rather than where it should be — on the right needle.

inside-out-detail

Most often, the mistake is made when the knitter picks up the project after taking a break and doesn’t check to be sure that the working yarn — the yarn connected to the ball or skein — is connected to the last stitch on the right-hand needle.

That’s how to avoid “inside-out” knitting. But how does a knitter fix this error? For the sake of argument, let’s assume they don’t want to incorporate a band of reverse stockinette as a “design element” — always an option if one doesn’t want to remedy a mistake.

The only solution I’ve found is to rip out or tink back the erroneous stitches. Then, take a deep breath, check that your working yarn is on the right (not left) needle, then double-check it, and begin again.

What are your most common knitting mistakes? Any tips for avoiding or fixing them?


How Can I Swatch with This?

March 14, 2018

I’m not a regular swatch knitter, partly because I generally make things where fit isn’t quite as important (like socks or shawls or baby knits). Indeed, dear friend and Fearless Knitter Cathie — who’s been swatch-free for about 50 years — and I regularly share messages about our swatch aversion.

But since I’ve decided to knit a sweater for myself (two rare occurrences), a swatch was in order. After all, if I’m going to spend hours on something that I intend to wear, I want it to fit. What knitter among us hasn’t finished a project, tried it on, discovered it doesn’t fit properly, and then stuffed it tucked it away in the back of a cupboard?

I started with size 5 (3.75mm) and knit a square, then switched to a size 4 (3.5mm) and knit some more. After washing and drying the swatch, I measured.

Swatch

The size 4 needles had yielded the 5 stitches per inch that I was looking for, which would have been terrific if the pattern actually called for 5 stitches per inch. Thinking I was all ready to cast on, I reread the pattern and discovered that the correct gauge is 4 stitches per inch.

That might not seem like a big difference, but over 200ish stitches, that’s more than two inches difference — the difference between a lovely summer sweater that fits and one that is banished to a dark drawer for eternity.

So, with Cathie’s shocked voice in my ear from 3,000 miles away, I pulled out what I thought were size 6 (4mm) needles and started another swatch. Here’s where things got a bit wonky. The size 6 swatch looked and measured the same as the size 5.

Since I’d been using a circular needle that wasn’t labeled and which I’d assumed was a size 6 since that’s what the needle gauge told me, I decided to check the gauge itself. I pulled out a size 6 needle from my interchangeable needle kit and double checked the size on my trust KnitPicks needle gauge, and then, because I’m someone who likes to verify results, I checked the needle size using a different gauge.

Needle-gauge

Who knew that a needle gauge could be miscalibrated? The size 6 needle from my interchangeable kit was too big for the size 6 hole on the KnitPicks gauge but fit smoothly through the Susan Bates gauge.

Now that I’ve got THAT figured out, it’s time to cast on the Sunshine Coast.

How do you feel about swatches?

 


Socks on the Beach

March 9, 2018

“That’s so unlike you!” was the response from each of our children when we told them of our four-day trip to Florida. But January’s deep freeze had us planning for a warm weather get-away, and as luck would have it, we were away for a ferocious Nor’easter.

As usual, Patrick was first into the ocean. I’m more inclined to walk, look for shells, watch the wildlife (human and other), sit and knit — all the while mesmerized by the sound, sight, and smell of the sea.

PLD-Florida-beach

On the flight, I’d seamed the toe of Sock #2, wove in the ends, and then cast on a new sock. As usual, it’s a basic, top-down sock pattern; this one in Done Roving’s “Frolicking Feet” (Peacock colorway).

Sock-beach

The hotel loaned bikes (and kayaks) to guests — on the honor system, no less — so we explored some of the surrounding area. Shell seekers comb the beaches for hours, searching for treasures, some for souvenirs but many for their small businesses.

We had the pleasure of meeting an Ambassador from the nearby National Shell Museum (who knew?!). He identified some of our shells and advised us to clean the shells in a 1:4 bleach/water bath so they wouldn’t stink. His “I Know Shells. Ask Me” t-shirt was well earned!

Shell-seekers

After a morning yoga class, I discovered an historic cemetery, nestled under the trees only 50 yards from the sea. Grave markers, including this one of a 10 year-old girl who died in the 1880s, were often “decorated” with shells and sea glass.

Captiva-cemetery2

One afternoon, we opted for a guided kayak tour of the bay and a mangrove forest. In the quiet of the forest, we saw and heard birds — white ibises, osprey, turkey vultures, and pelicans —  dozens of ancient shell mounds from the Calusa natives, spider-like black shrimp that climbed the mangroves (fortunately staying far away from us humans).

PLD-kayak

The sock joined us for its — and our — first Spring Training baseball game.

Sock-redsox (1)

The get-away may have been unlike us, but given how wonderful and relaxing it was, that just might change.

MAH-PLD-Captiva


The “Unquestionable Benefit” of Handknit Socks

March 3, 2018

Kevin’s been a fan of my knit socks since his first pair nearly five years ago. He’s even agreed to be a model for blog photos. Every once in while, he’ll text me a photo — usually from a table in the university library — of his feet, wrapped in lucky socks, as he studies for exams.

As he slogged his way through mid-term exams this week, he sent the following to our family group text:

Pro tip: Mom’s knitted socks are real juju for taking midterms. Even if they might not have all the answers, their benefit is unquestionable

KRD-lucky-socks

Warms the cockles of this mother’s heart.


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