Friday, December 30, 2011

Things unblogged

Sometimes, in the course of knitting projects, they seem to fall by the roadside and never get blogged about.  I don't know why that seems to happen with some of them, with others I know that it is because the pattern isn't ready to share, or is waiting for a publish date....and it takes a long time to go from pattern creation through knitting, through marketing and then on to the publishing.

This winter BadCat Designs, or Andrea, had a pattern in Vogue Holiday Knitting. This pattern!

Here are my versions (yes two!)

I call them Queen of Hearts and Through the Looking Glass.  Mostly the difference is in the edging, one with and one without the scallops and ten million beads in the cast off edge!

It is almost time to start planning 2012 projects, what do you want to have on and off your needles in the coming year?


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The answer is...

The questions was : Did you finish everything in time?
The answer is :   No.

TDQ's Almost Bow Tie Socks
Knit Picks Essential Plum Tweed  (I think this is another discontinued yarn!)
size 1 (US) needles.
Mods :  afterthought heels, modified the stitch pattern with a "slip as if to knit" rather than "knit one in the row below" just to make it quicker for myself.
This one was completed just in the nick of time, blocked over night Christmas Eve and popped into a stocking on Christmas morning!

Unfinished :
Yet Another Grey Hoodie
The zipper band is done, just need a cuff and one more sleeve along with sewing in a pretty close, not quite.....

Epic Fail :

I can't even say that is most of a pair of socks, more like the start of a sock!
Plain vanilla, with another afterthought heel (this time because the monster man has big old feet and I am very concerned that the heels will end up in a different yarn!)
Doesn't look like much because I am not very far into them.

Even with incomplete knitting certain people in this family (namely all the not-quite-adults) were running around the house claiming it was the "Best Christmas, EVER!" so things turned out pretty well.

Maybe I can get these knits wrapped up for the New Year, but wait, there are games to play and lots of leftovers to eat..maybe in a little while I will pick up my knitting again.

I hope you had a Merry Christmas, even the people who said Bah Humbug! (And yes, Amanda, I was talking to you!)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

"The time has come, " the knitter said

It is official, if you still have a blanket, a hoodie sweater and two pairs of socks to get knitted up and off your needles by Christmas, go ahead and panic because time, my friend, is certainly marching on and the big day is less than a week away!

One more gift knit did make it off my needles this week.  I had to join several knit picks cables together to get a circular needle long enough to go all the way around but they make these nifty joiner things now so although tedious to keep cinching my knitting around the giant cable I had created I was able to work the entire border and edging in one piece!

To give you a quick reminder, way back in the spring I started knitting squares for a blanket for TDQ.  I used patterns from one of Bad Cat Designs knit alongs, Summer Squares and a bag of unknown yarn that I picked up for a song at a thrift store.  I used just about all of that yarn, and noticed once I was done that the darker color did seem to be in two different shades, but TDQ doesn't mind at all!

Rather than follow the rules (and we all know that women who follow the rules never make history!) I mashed up several of the different projects that were offered during that Knit Along and came up with "Cha Cha Cha Cha Changes"

This past week I cast her off and got my first good look since putting all those stitches on my giant circular needle.

What do you think?

She is 108 inches by 64 inches, contains 15 squares, many, many balls of yarn, the border from Blue Quartet and the edging from Summer Squares Blanket modified to work in the round.  With those dimensions I didn't have enough blocking wires to block the edges straight, and rather than dig for cotton to run through the edges for blocking I just put in some gentle waves for now.  Time for a proper straight edge blocking AFTER December 25th!

Oh, and Amanda, I am so sorry but I got carried away when I was weaving in ends and accidentally wove in the three you were going to do.  I will make sure to save you some out of my next "million and three ends to weave in" project.  Speaking of projects, I had better go work on some, I am the knitter who still has one blanket, one hoodie and two pair of socks to get on and off the needles in a week!


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Now what was I supposed to be doing, again?

Oh yes, that's right, there is this biggish holiday coming up and people are expecting their knit goods as promised, but I seem to have got a little distracted along the way.

To recap, The Other Brother is done, he has : A green striped hoodie, A green blanket, and some very Pickle Green you notice a trend there?

The First Twin (or brother depending on my mood) has...A pair of stripey ragg socks, a red striped hoodie and um, yeah, well he has a blanket that is 28 rounds from being ready to cast off.

The Drama Queen has: a purple sweater that she wants moved to being her birthday present so that she can have a purple striped hoodie (not done), a blanket that is 6 rows away from being ready for edging, and, well, um, I decided on the yarn for her socks but not the pattern. (you guessed right, though, the yarn is purple.) and I have how many days left?

Don't answer that! Especially as The Monster Man should get socks, he has a friend who wants socks, I have some friends who want stuff and in digging through my room today I have discovered that there is something I need for me....I have holes in the only pair of my socks that were left.

In the meantime, someone who has been helpful the past few months mentioned that she REALLY liked some socks that The First Brother had been wearing, so I might have been distracted making her socks.

No pattern, Vanilla Socks in Patons Kroy in Bronzed Berry Stripes
Size 1 (US) needles, ran out of yarn before I ran out of toe, so added some black, if I had planned ahead I would have done the heels in black too, but such is life!

I should be done Christmas shopping, I am not quite so mean that my children only get hand knits, but I am stuck.

Any suggestions on what to get the green loving 12 year old boy?

I have much knitting to do, so while you ponder that question I will get back to my needles.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Now that, my friends, is a can of worms she opened!

So take a minute or three and run over to read what the Yarn Harlot wrote today.  I'll wait right here while you do.

Now I will tell you, right off, I consider myself a professional test/sample knitter.

When I knit samples, I can assure you I get paid either in cash money or an equal exchange of yarn and/or pattern books of my choice.  Sometimes I get a combination of the two and sometimes I get bonuses for speedy work or whatever it is that the designer/yarn company I am working for is most interested in on that particular day.  Samples are owned by the person or company that you knit for, they provide the materials, the pattern, even down to (usually) picking the colors you will work with, seems more than fair to get paid for your work.  And I negotiate, either setting a per piece price or a per yard price (with an enhancement to that price if it is an intricate piece, lace or heavy cables) that usually starts at 20 cents per yard and "flexes" from there.

But, bear in mind that means that something as simple as a plain pair of no pattern socks made out of approximately 400 yards of fingering weight will run about $80 on knitting alone.  Do you want to pay $80 for a pair of plain jane socks?  (Which is why yarn companies would much prefer to give you what retails for $80 worth of yarn - remember they own the stuff and make a profit on it retail, even make a profit on it wholesale so if you ask for say $100 worth of yarn they are still not paying $80 and get a tax write off to boot!)

Pattern testing is a whole different story, at least for me!  But, I have to tell you that I work with a couple of different designers who both take very different approaches to test knitters.

Designer A provides the pattern and on occasion the materials which I then knit, make my (usually few) pattern corrections, photo and keep to myself.  Designer A also provides free copies of any pattern they have in addition to what I have worked on and even provides non available patterns for my pleasure (one time I was saying I was in dire need of a sock pattern for some special yarn I had, low and behold in my email box appeared a pattern that has not been published, just for me to knit.)  My suggestions are taken seriously, with a cheery Thank You , with the added bonus of an intro to one yarn company that really enhanced my stash of cashmere yarns through sample knitting and a mention in the pattern as being of help, you really can't say I don't get "paid" to have the thrill of being one of the first people to knit the pattern...and in many cases let me tell you these patterns are a thrill to be the first to see!

Designer B provides the pattern, the materials and once I am done knitting I send back the finished project which they photo to suit the pattern, then send back to me along with copious amounts of yarn, even additional yarn throughout the year as "just because" presents.  As I get to keep the finished object I am given a choice of colors and always given as much time as I need to work on the project, the deadlines being fairly fluid.  Another designer that I consider a friend, even though we have never met in person, and who spoils me like crazy.

Designer C, well I got the pattern, used my own yarn, sent in my pattern corrections, got a brief mention on their blog that I was a test knitter and......that was it.

Guess who I never test knit for again?

What I decided, at least for myself as a "professional test knitter", is that small independent designers, the ones you can build a lasting relationship and friendship with, they deserve all the help they can get promoting this craft.  They seem to (at least two thirds of the time) genuinely want to provide some kind of exchange for what the test knitter provides.  Payment, not necessarily in hard cash, but in some form is traded and we all leave happy. Larger more commercial companies need to pay in hard cash to make the books balance, but are not as concerned with building friendships or taking suggestions from lowly test knitters as to what a pattern could be with a few modifications.  Either way, there has to be a perceived equality between what the test knitter does and what the designer provides, I say perceived because I always end up feeling like I am getting the better end of the deal, and the designers I work most often with tell me that they get the better end of the deal.

I agree, contracts, standards and fair wages would go a long way towards making this hobby of ours more of an industry and certainly make it easier for both designers and test knitters to negotiate when both had an idea where to start.

But, I think before we can set a "fair wage" and standardize this industry there is one more thing that needs fixing, and if she thinks about it the Yarn Harlot herself has even mentioned it before.  We, as knitters specifically and crafters in general need to stop down playing just how much work it takes to create something!

stepping down off her soapbox now.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

TDQ has not been happy this week, first her computer was acting up, worse than usual, and the only cure was a new hard drive. Luckily her dad is a soft touch when it comes to technology.  She asked and he provided the hardware, leaving me to figure out (the very easy really) installation and formatting.  I say very easy, and it is easy to say and do if you do not have hands that do whatever they want, whenever they want and not usually in the direction you want to go.  Timing was going to be crucial, awake enough to know what I was doing, "calmed" enough so that I could handle the itty bitty screws without sending them half way to China in the process.
Laptops are great except that lack of maneuvering room when you are working on them!

Second, on her way to meet the bus that picks her up at Oh dark hundred she noticed holes in her hat that let the wind nip at her ears.

The second was more easily fixed than the first!
Hurricane Hat  in J Knits Delightful (sadly discontinued now, I didn't think it had sat in my stash that long, but maybe it did!)  The color is Boston and it is a hand dyed blue tone worsted weight wool/alpaca blend.  Nice and soft around the ears.

In other knitting, I can finally say I am finished with one person on my list!
Socks for The Other Brother came off the needles this week, his blanket was finished in the summer and his hoodie just a post or two ago, three hand knit things and he is done, done, done!

No pattern to link for the socks, plain vanilla recipe with a four row repeat of some cluster stitches to stop me from having to literally count every row to match the two!

I also threw an unbreakable candy dish on and off the needles in an evening.  There is a plan for it, can't say right now what that is, but maybe in a few weeks (wink).
TDQ says it is a good start on designing her a fez*, maybe for her birthday.  :)

I still have miles of knitting to do and only three weeks to get them done, how is your holiday knitting coming?

Amanda, I will let you know when I am ready for help weaving in ends, even just three would be a help.  :)


According to the Doctor, a fez is cool!

Monday, November 28, 2011

What were you Thankful for?

This past week, if you happen to live in the United States area of North America, included a day of Thanksgiving, followed (for many) by a day of overspending, crowds and hitting the malls or stores while it was still more than dark outside.

Originally the holiday was a day of gratefulness, gratitude that crops had grown and matured to harvest and there would be enough to eat through the cold, dark, winter months.  Appreciation for people who already knew the land and what could be found to stretch those crops, although that changed pretty quickly later on, and a general sense of family and well being.

Today, well for some it still means those things, for others it is just the day of feasting before heading to the store to start the craziness of Christmas shopping, or in the case of knitters, frantic Christmas Knitting.

One more project is off my needles, somewhere in the meantime a couple more ideas jumped on, but we will see if they actually end up as Finished Objects or just pipe dreams later on.  For now, I bring you.....

Once more into the stripes...

Another top down raglan, hoodie with no shaping or texture, just plain stripes...well maybe not plain stripes this time around, more varied stripes.
For a more detailed picture of the stripe pattern see this post.

Another one jumped on the needles as TDQ didn't want to be left out, hers is a lighter grey with eggplant colored stripes, pictures in the next few days I think, today I am working on her blanket from the summer that has been sadly neglected and only needs a border and edging.  I am two repeats into the border, pretty sure I will stop after the third and move onto a simple garter stitch edge before weaving in a million and three ends.

And maybe even decorate a little bit more!


Thursday, November 17, 2011


Wordle: YarnDiet

You can make your own silliness here!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Once more unto the breach...

"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;..." into the grey wool blend yarn that has become my knitting existence (not really there has been other knitting but itsasecret) these past few weeks.

Both the boys wanted hoodies, and both were quite insistent that there be "NO, I mean it mom, no texture."  Texture meaning cables or "loopy things" when I suggest St John's Crosses on the back.

So once more I am winding my way through miles of endless knit one row, purl one row, shaping here, none there. 

To keep it interesting I have changed up the stripes and pockets on this one.  I can't wait to see what I do with the hood, the last one was a touch wider than I would want, and as I seem to be knitting a families worth of hooded cardigans I might as well, eventually, make one for myself as well.

This is what I have to show of The Other Brother's Striped Hoodie...doesn't look like much does it?


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Apart from essentially knitting it twice....

Officially I started the red and grey hoodie on October 22,2011, but as I had to start it all over really I didn't get moving on this until October 29th, so be completely done by today is not too shabby.

We won't mention that it sat around for three days waiting for me to purchase and sew in a zipper!

Stats:  The First Brother's Sweater, aka Emilien
Lion Brand Wool Ease in Ranch Red and Oxford Grey
Size 6 and 7 (US) needles, Signature Arts Stiletto Tipped circulars that were a "cheer you up" present, and what a present I got one of each sizes 3-9.  You know who you are that provided that pick me up and all I can say is THANK YOU!
I knit the smallest size, chopped a few inches off the length and put in a 24 inch zipper.
Wanna see?

Which means for Christmas knitting I am only committed to make : 2 more blankets, 3 more hoodies, 2 more pairs of socks.

Better get knitting!


Thursday, October 27, 2011

There are days when I really wonder.

In the never ending saga of trying to make Mary feel better, doctors have yet again, upped and changed some of her "stupid pills".  So far the jury is still out as to if they do anything other than make her stupid, you should ask my team about "Oh wow, she did a Mary!" or "I am hot, or cold, one of them, not sure which yet."  All this week I have wondered if it is even worth getting out of bed and trying to start my day.

Today I had proof, positive proof, that I would have been better off just not.....

Behold, seven stripes into a boring to knit, striped hoodie sweater for the first twin.

So far, so good right?  Making pretty good progress on it and it looks good so far, even stitches, no gaps at the increases.

Now take a look at the next ball of yarn.

Um, Houston, we have a problem, those are different colors!  Well, actually the same color, just very different dyelots.

Oh well, on second thought I think I wanted slightly wider stripes anyway, might as well just start over!
On that note, I am even further behind on my Christmas knitting!
(TDQ looked over my shoulder and asked me if a YarnDiet is a good diet?  But of course it is, lots of fiber!!!)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Don't least not yet

It hit me looking at my calendar today, in just two days we will be exactly 2 months from Christmas.  For those who do not celebrate it with an overload of gifts, both purchased and knitted, no big deal.  For those of us with plans that are bigger than our fingers, it is terrifying!  Well, maybe not yet, maybe I should save terrifying for another month and three weeks...what do you think?

And more importantly, if you are one of those knitters who makes gifts for loved ones to be given in that winter holiday, what do you make?

During the summer I came up with a plan, started it, then promptly forgot it until this weekend!  Each of my children would open three hand knit gifts from me : a pair of socks, a blanket and a sweater.  The plan being that no matter how much they grow and change over the years, the blanket, if cared for appropriately, would last forever (or at least a good long time).

During the heat of the summer one blanket was finished, one was started but pushed to the side in favor of cooler knits during that heat, and now here we are with two months of good knitting time left and isn't finished.  Luckily Socktober stepped in and I got at least one pair of the socks done!

The First Brother's Christmas Socks.
Plain vanilla socks, I let the yarn take care of the patterning so that I could knit on something brainless while watching Little Shop of Horrors among other things.

Size 10 needles also made quick work of one sweater!
Leaflet, from Knitty.
Yarn: Louisa Harding Kashmir Aran of course in Purple for TDQ

It still needs blocking, but first I want to wash my swatch. I know, I know, before starting knitting I should have swatched, washed, blocked, just to be sure, but....I knew I wanted to add long sleeves and I wasn't sure how much yarn I would have left so I left swatching until I was finished knitting.  Good plan, as it turns out, as I could only make one smallish swatch before running out of yarn!  It is washing now, though!

My lunchtime knitting has been this scarf for the lady who donated a ton of yarn to my stash!  No pattern to speak of, just cast on, increased, knit some twisted garter between rows of k2tog, yo, doubled the stitches and finished with some K2P2 ribbing.  It spirals nicely!

If you do not hear from me in a while, send lace patterns....the boys have decided they want plain, well striped, hoodies as their Christmas sweaters this year...I am lost in miles and miles of knit one row, purl one row!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Really there has been some knitting!

Hmm, well it looks like it has been a while since I was here.  Trying to get new routines fully established seems to have eaten up a bit more time that it should have, but there has at least been a little knitting going on.  Just not my usual quantities.

That said, there is a finished object to share!

The Ties that Bind, by Diane Conroy.
Yarn : Colourmart Cotton/Linen/Silk 6/24 yarn held double throughout (Two full cones with about 22 grams to spare.)
Needles: Size 9 US

I was one of several people who got to test knit this pattern before Diane officially published it, (you can get it now as it is hot off the presses, just follow the pattern link above).
The yarn really changed with a quick trip through my washer and dryer, now it is all soft and cuddly!
See the difference?  Closer even, after the washer :
Before the washer:

Quite a drastic change, but I like it!

While I was washing and drying this piece suddenly it hit me.

It is Socktober already and I haven't knit any socks in a good long while, so
Nothing like a pair of plain vanilla socks when the head doesn't work right!

Other updates, BabyRay Blanket is still on the needles, those rounds are getting longer, CPDWifeScarf is about to be cast pics of either in my camera this time, maybe next time.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Be careful what you ask for

For some time now I have been trying to convince TDQ that yarn is a good thing to play with, not just to hand to Mom and say "make me this."  Until we went to Wool Gathering again this year my attempts fell on deaf ears.

Knitting is boring, she would say, or "You are faster than me, you make it, please???"

And then we met this lady.  She was chatting and braiding cord, and chatting some more, and TDQ decided that she would like to try.  A few dollars later this came home with us.
As soon as we were home, while I was making the dinner that none of us wanted to eat, she was in my stash. Digging through cashmere to practice with.  I was gentle, but firm, no cashmere for practice cords.  I also removed some very nice sock yarn and some of what is destined to be her Christmas Present Sweater from her hands and replaced it with some leftovers.  You know those walnut sized scraps that seem too much to toss and too little to do much with?  By the time she got to the end of that small ball she had got the hang of it and moved onto a full ball of Patons Kroy FX

Between sketching for art, she is not happy working  on still life pictures, and helping me out around the house she has got this far into her dream of 70 feet of cord.

My friend and fav designer, Andrea of Bad Cat Designs has suggested that once she finishes the cord we coil it up and stitch it into a fingerless mitt.  TDQ thinks that is just genius!.

I realized as I was uploading those pics I haven't shown you my in process baby blanket or scarf.  The scarf will have to wait, it is at work, but this is how far I got into Stor Lysedug, it is greatly upsized and the free pattern can be found here.  This time I am not knitting for my Baby Blankets through Time project, someone I used to work with is expecting again.  I am not the only one that wants Heirlooms for my children!
25 more rounds to go, I hope it will be big enough!


Saturday, September 24, 2011


Quite a hectic week for the crew at Chez YarnDiet.  On Wednesday I had to pick TFB (The first brother) up from school a little early and drag him across town to see a specialist.  It had all started the week before when the school called me to suggest that I have someone look at his foot.  We are not huge believers in doctors around here, but I called one and sweet talked the receptionist, who actually is a medical assistant but he was the poor soul that was answering the phones that day, into getting us an appt that day right after school.

Sure enough, the kid has an infection in his toe, but what the doctor can't figure out is why it is where it is and why his toenail, that always looked like a regular sort of toe nail before, is growing almost sideways and not from the bast of his toe to the tip of his toe.  A quick course of antibiotics later we leave with an appt for this week with a podiatrist who can hopefully figure things out.

Two appts later we have a theory.  The theory is that he stubbed his toe.  Damn hard and split his toe nail right the way down to the nail bed, it started healing on its own, but while it was doing that he....stubbed his toe., which split it again.  Many stubs later he has a toe nail that had shifted position and was now growing in all kinds of unusual directions and by the way, the antibiotic hasn't cured the infection.

One bout of in office surgery fishing for bits of toe nail where they didn't belong, draining the infection and just plain removing most of his nail later he seems to be doing very well.

You would think with waiting time in doctor's offices that knitting got done.

Alas, you would be wrong.

All I have to show for the week is a swatch.

“As long as the ties that bind us together are stronger than those that would tear
us apart, all will be well.”

Words to live by.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Homeward Bound, well sort of!

With the usual artist appologises!

I'm sittin' at my computer station
Thinking back upon my destination
On a tour of vendor stands
My credit card and purse in hand
And every stop is neatly planned
For a mother and her three kid band

I want a sheep
to bring back home
Just want one to keep...... at
Home, look a ducks escaping

Home, let's have some lambs playing

Home, where sheep could be waiting
Silently for me

Everyday's an endless stream
Of work to do, nothing to see
And each duck looks the same to me

The feathers and the feet I see
But every sheep looks sweet to me
And reminds me that I just want three...

I want a sheep
to bring back home
Just want one to keep...... at
Home, look a ducks escaping
Home, let's have some lambs playing 
Home, where sheep could be waiting
Silently for me

Tonight I'll pet my yarn again
I'll dream of sheep and pretend

But all my words come back to me
In shades of mediocrity
Like emptyness in harmony
"We can bring home yarn but not a sheep!"

The kids liked the sheep shearing and the dog herding ducks the best....I was partial to the yarn.

A little did come home with us, but no livestock, which is what we had been really singing about on the hour long drive to Wool Gathering.  One thing that came home with us was full tummies!  Youngs Jersey Dairy is pretty well known for their fabulous ice-cream around these parts! No-one wanted much of their dinner, including myself, who should be setting a much better example than filling up on Black Raspberry and Black Walnut ice-cream in a cholocate dipped waffle cone before heading home.  But, on the flip side we have been eating a lot of fresh fruits and veggies lately, and the amount of junk food that has been finding its way into my grocery cart has been severely cut back (although I am still partial to chips!)

My small haul is below.....we'll talk about it later, right now I am trying this recipe for chocolate chip cookies.  Maybe we didn't get enough sweets!