Let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him. (Oswalt Chambers)

Monday, May 31, 2010

Felici Socks Finished

In addition to Mom's birthday socks in pink Simply Sock wool, she's getting a couple more pair in Knitpicks Felici.

Since she requested "pink", how could I resist a color called Positively Pink (above), and she's likely to blind her exercise class when she shows up in Rainbow (below). If she dares to wear them out of the house.

The Felici yarn is very soft and feels like acrylic. When I started the first pair of socks, I went back to check the label to make sure it wasn't acrylic.

Felici is so soft and slippery that I got visible ladders in the cuffs. I'm sure after a few washings they'll be gone, so I didn't stew about it.

As you can see from the pictures, the colors are very very bright and pretty.

I have no idea how Felici is going to wear. I'm guessing it will get holes quicker than other sock yarn because of the acrylic like softness. But that's just a guess. It may bloom in the laundry and wear better than I expect. I'll be checking back with Mom to see how it holds up.

Note to Mom: If these socks wear out quickly, don't feel bad and please report. Many of us want to know.

Felici comes in 50 gram balls. The Positively Pink balls had the stripes in opposite order and I had to rewind one of them to get the socks to match. Then I found a knot and had to discard a small ball of yarn to get to the right place to join the ends.

I find knots in self-patterning sock yarn unforgivable. Even inexpensive sock yarn like Felici costs enough so there should be room for some quality control.

Pattern: Basic cuff down sock pattern on 64 stitches. k3p1 ribbing on cuff and instep. 5 inch cuffs.

Yarn: Knitpicks Felici sock yarn. 75% wool, 25% nylon.

Color: Positively Pink and Rainbow.

Needles: Options #1, 2.5mm

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mom's Birthday Socks Finished

The lure of the Simply Socks Yarn Company Solid Sock Line was Mom choosing this color from the spectrum of 67 solid colors available.

This is the first time I've tried this sock yarn. It's perfectly nice, but not my favorite. (Stalwart from Slackford Studio is my favorite.)

The Simply Sock Solid is slightly woolly in feel. It would be great for color work where the different colors need to grab each other.

In my two skeins there were no quality problems. No knots. No thin areas. No unwanted variations in color.

Simply Sock Stitch definition is excellent.

For some reason I had a little problem keeping my stitches even in the stockinette areas. Maybe because I've been knitting with the smoother Stalwart. Maybe because we have a complicated medical event coming up for Bob and I'm a bit stressed. Probably a bit of both.

Mom will have to report back later on how Simply Sock Solid wears and launders. No reason not to think it will do fine.

Pattern: Basic cuff down sock pattern on 64 stitches. Side twisted stitch pattern is Forgotten Love #3, stitch pattern 94 from Twisted-Stitch Knitting by Maria Erlbacher. I knit the traveling stitches as two stitch cables.

Yarn: Simply Socks Yarn Company Solid Sock Line. 80% superwash wool, 20% nylon.

Color: Blush.

Needles: Options #1, 2.5mm

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Chat Back for May 22

Answering questions from comments and email.

MomSue84 asked . . .
Just wondering how you like the Simply Socks Yarn Company house yarn and the KP Stroll?

The Simply Socks Yarn Company socks are done and the KP Felici (easily confused with Stroll) socks are about half done.

If life allows, I'll be posting pictures and comments on both yarns next week.

Judy S. asked . . .
How are the bluebird babies doing?

They're doing great guessing by the amount of food being delivered by the parents.

The weather hasn't been conducive to having the nest box open long enough to take pictures, and now that it's warming up it's too late. I don't open the nest box after 13 days because they're exercising their wings and may jump out.

Hopefully we'll have a late spring nesting with more photo opportunities.

Nancy asked . . .
I was wondering what your brothers name is?

Brother Dave is David G. Monette.

His website is Monette Trumpet

CozyStitches asked . . .
How long did this take you???? (Sprout)

About three weeks total elapsed time. Sprout was a quick, simple knit and the only seaming was the sleeves.

Sweaters without long sleeves seem to finish in half the time of a long sleeved sweater. That can't actually be true, but it seems like it when I'm doing the knitting.

Jean asked . . .
What do you think of this yarn? (Cotlin)

My thoughts on Cotlin yarn are in this post.

To sum up: It's soooo much nicer than knitting with 100% cotton. Feels better, wears better, launders better.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sprout in Action

Early last evening I headed east to granddaughter Kimmy's choir concert at Pennfield High School northeast of Battle Creek.

On the way, I picked up Mom and asked her to snap a few Sprout pictures while it was still daylight. Thanks Mom.

I'm not broad in the shoulders. If I had it to knit over, I would shape the set-in sleeves more so they fit my shape better.

Pattern: Cultivated Vines by Sara Louise Harper in the May, 2010 Creative Knitting

Pattern Modifications:
  • Knitting lower two-thirds of sweater in the round instead of separate front and back.
  • Pattern goes from size 38 (too small) to size 42 (too big). I'm knitting a between size, size 40 on 240 stitches.
  • Used neck shaping for size 38 and sleeve shaping for size 42.
  • Shortened sleeves so they'll end just above my elbow.

Yarn: Knitpicks Cotlin, a DK weight 70% Tanguis cotton 30% linen yarn.

Color: Sprout, a summery green.

Needles: Options #4, 3.5mm.

Gauge: 6 stitches/inch, 8 rows/inch in stockinette.

Kimmy and her Great-grandma Monette after the concert.

The concert was very entertaining and impressive. Kimmy had a small solo belted out clear and on key. We were all very proud of her. She's ending her freshman year. It will be fun to see what she does with her singing talent as she progresses through high school.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wednesday Wings - On the Power Line

The power line that crosses the back three acres is a favorite resting spot for some of the birds. Sort of like a birdy front porch rocking chair.

Male Towhee.

Female Bluebird.

Mr. Rosy (Rose-breasted Grosbeak) is not directly on the line, but I wanted three pictures and the line is visible in the background so I'm counting it.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sprout Finished

I think I'm happy with it, but it's impossible to know for sure until I wear it for more than five minutes.

We've been having April weather in May. Cool, sometimes cold, and cloudy and wet.

According to AccuWeather, it's supposed to warm up tomorrow. If it actually happens I plan on wearing this to granddaughter Kimmy's choir concert tomorrow evening.

If it doesn't warm up, I'll save the wear test for another day.

Pattern: Cultivated Vines by Sara Louise Harper in the May, 2010 Creative Knitting

Pattern Modifications:
  • Knitting lower two-thirds of sweater in the round instead of separate front and back.
  • Pattern goes from size 38 (too small) to size 42 (too big). I'm knitting a between size, size 40 on 240 stitches.
  • Used neck shaping for size 38 and sleeve shaping for size 42.
  • Shortened sleeves so they'll end just above my elbow.

Yarn: Knitpicks Cotlin, a DK weight 70% Tanguis cotton 30% linen yarn.

Color: Sprout, a summery green.

Needles: Options #4, 3.5mm.

Gauge: 6 stitches/inch, 8 rows/inch in stockinette.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Chat Back for May 15

Answering questions from comments and email.

Pam wrote . . .
I love your postings of birds we don't get here in Texas. Keep the photos coming!

Thanks for the encouragement. Sometimes I feel like I'm posting the same thing year after year but I hope to continue as long as we live here.

I feel like I'm living in bird watching heaven. So many birds that I'd only seen in bird books before we moved to the country. Every spring I'm thrilled when they return, except for the Cowbirds and the English Sparrows.

The Goldfinches are year round residents, but they do change color with the seasons. In the late spring and summer the males are bright yellow.

Mom asked . . .
I love the pink knits in your blog. Is that my pink choice? It's beautiful!

You caught me! Yes, this is the cuff of one of your birthday socks. Glad you like it.

Dorothy asked . . .
What? No pictures of the Louise lunch? I always look forward to them. Hopefully a good time was had by all.

I hauled out the camera for daughter Heather's sock unwrapping and then got so busy yakking I forgot to get it out again.

The weather was horrid – cold (40s), very windy, and rain so there was no stopping for pictures on the way to our cars. We put our heads down and ran for it. I’ll try to remember to get some family pictures at Kimmy’s choir concert next week.

We had a very nice time. It’s fun to have Kimmy old enough to talk adult talk with us.

Nancy wrote . . .
A Hummingbird stopped by here for a drink last week. So it should be there any day. :-)

They arrived May 6, just in time for a week of cold, wet, windy weather.

Why do birds migrate from warm, tropical places to climates like SW Michigan?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

New Yarn

Sprout (not shown here) is finished. It's been so cold I've been wearing wool and haven't had the incentive to wash and block Sprout for pictures. Maybe this evening.

Having Sprout finished opened up the knitting queue for another project, so I ordered the yarn to knit Vines and Leaves (above) from the May issue of Creative Knitting

Yes, it's more Knitpicks Cotlin.

This color is called Planetarium. It could easily have been called Navy.

I'm in a Cotlin rut. Why change yarns when I like the way Cotlin knits up, wears with little stretching, no pilling, machine washes and dries with no shrinkage, and feels good next to my skin?

Knitpicks labels Cotlin as a DK weight yarn. I've knit my previous two Cotlin sweaters at a sport weight gauge of 6 stitches/inch resulting in the positive yarn attributes listed in the previous paragraph.

Vines and Leaves will be the first time I've knit Cotlin at DK gauge of 5.5 stitches/inch. It will be interesting to see if I still love it at DK gauge.

Who pays postage at Knitpicks when you can order more stuff and get free shipping? Not me.

It's been several years since I tried their sock yarn and I wasn't impressed with it at that time. These colors combos caught my eye, so I decided to give it another try.

Felici Positively Pink on the left, Felici Rainbow on the right.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wednesday Wings Nestbox Report

The bluebirds were scheduled to hatch last Wednesday. It was a chilly, windy day so I didn't peak into the box. Then it got really cold - white frost on the ground four nights in a row. And the wind blew and it rained. Best to keep the box shut and hope the naked hatchlings were warm enough to survive.

Today, after a week of unpleasant weather, the warmer air descended, the sun came out, and I dared to look in the box. There were five healthy looking fuzzy bluebird hatchlings waiting to have their picture taken.

Actually, they were waiting for me to close the box and leave them alone so their parents could bring food. So I did.

Yesterday I noticed a Tree Swallow sitting on a nest box located near the pond.

The swallows like to gracefully cruise over the water and scarf up insects. We have plenty insects to spare here.

Today Mr. and Mrs. Swallow have claimed their box. There's the start of a nest inside and when I approached closer they dive-bombed my head.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Twisted Stitch Socks and Knitting Book

When I was in "knitting Cookie socks" mode last year, the socks I loved best were the ones with traveling two stitch cable crosses. They were fun to knit and beautiful to see. Not so great to wear.

The traveling stitches don't make for elastic fabric. When worked down the front of a sock, they only look good when the human foot is pointed straight out. With the foot in a normal position, the traveling stitches pucker and crease. At least that's how it works with my feet.

That's why I'm trying a compromise design strategy - traveling stitch pattern down both sides of a sock with a wide ribbing down the front and back. Not as stunning as a Cookie type pattern, but easier to knit and more practical to wear.

Pattern: Basic cuff down sock pattern on 64 stitches. Side twisted stitch pattern is Forgotten Love #3, stitch pattern 94 from Twisted-Stitch Knitting by Maria Erlbacher. I'm knitting the traveling stitches as two stitch cables.

Yarn: Simply Socks Yarn Company Solid Sock Line. 80% superwash wool, 20% nylon.

Color: Blush.

Needles: Options #1, 2.5mm

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch

This book is a gem.

For a knitter who collects stitch patterns, it's a have-to-have. 174 Alpine stitch patterns.

The patterns are shown in black and white, all charted with chart symbols like I've never seen before. The symbols are intuitive and I had no trouble following them. There is an excellent technical introduction by Meg Swansen and Amy Detjen when help is needed.

The back of the book has some sweater patterns and sock patterns to drool over.

This is the Amazon link: Twisted-Stitch Knitting, but right now it's 40% off at Knitpicks.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Heather's Birthday Socks Finished

Daughter Heather's birthday socks were done in plenty of time for our 4 generation Louise Lunch on Saturday. She loved the color and did all the proper admiring, making me happy to have made her happy.

Pattern: Little Shell Rib stitch pattern
Multiple of 8 stitches, 4 rows
  • Row 1: k7, p1
  • Row 2: k7, p1
  • Row 3: k1, YO, p1, p3tog, p1, YO, k1, p1
  • Row 4: k7, p1

Yarn: Stalwart Sock from Slackford Studio. 75% Superwash Merino, 25% Nylon 4 Ply Fingering Weight Sock Yarn.

Color: Woodgrain.

Needles: Options 2.50mm circulars.

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch in stockinette.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook for May 4

These writing prompts are available from Simple Woman's Daybook where each Tuesday we're invited to join in celebrating the beauty of everyday moments around us.

FOR TODAY May 4, 2010...

Outside my window...

The trees are green once again and the food is out waiting the arrival of the sugar loving birds, the orioles and hummingbirds, due to arrive any day now.

I am thinking... I'm very excited for Kalamazoo Central High School for the honor they won today - President Obama as commencement speaker!!

From the Whitehouse website:
We received over 1,000 applications that were narrowed down by the White House Domestic Policy Council and Department of Education to six high school finalists. Between April 26th and April 29th, over 170,000 people weighed in on short videos and essay from the six finalists. President Obama selected the national winner from the three high schools with the highest average ratings.

I am thankful for...
The phonecall we got yesterday with a date for Bob's cardiac catheter ablation and that the date doesn't prevent me attending Granddaughter Kimmy's choir concert.

From the kitchen...
Bob made BBQ ribs that we've been enjoying with some potato salad.

I am wearing... jean shorts and a blue tee. Just got out of the shower after mowing the lawn, a dusty job because everything is dry.

I am creating...
Working on the sleeves for Spout. They're done in reverse stockinette and I don't like the way the sleeve cap decreases are looking. Planning to frog and try something else. If that doesn't work, I may knit them top down Barbara Walker style. I'm a bit frustrated but figure I'm learning something. Just not sure what.

I am reading...
Just finished listening to eight Aurora Teagarden mysteries by Charlaine Harris. Very enjoyable. I was sad when the last one was finished.

I am hoping... for some rain. But no flooding please.

It was a very dry April here.

This turtle is sitting on a little mud island in a place where the pond water is normally eight to twelve inches deep.

I am hearing... the baseball game Bob has on the radio.

They just announced that retired Tiger announcer Ernie Harwell died. Not unexpected, but sad. He will be missed.

Around the house...
The blackflies are at their peak.

The dogs are getting bitten so I've been trying to keep them in as much as possible.

Sunny gets it the worst because she has thin fur and a bare belly. Pappy has thick fur and a furry belly. He gets bit on his one remaining private part.

Both little dogs are eager to roll over belly up and let me powder them up with Neo Predef. It's almost instant relief for them. Glory doesn't want any part of my nursing.

One of my favorite things...

The phoebes. For nineteen years they've returned to build a nest on the side porch.

This is the female perched on an old milkweed stalk ready to dart out and catch an insect.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Wednesday is grocery shopping, library, and taking DH Bob for a bloodtest. Friday Bob has a internist appointment. Saturday is Louise Lunch to celebrate Mother's Day, daughter Heather's birthday, and four generations of women with the middle name Louise.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...


Sunday, May 02, 2010

Chat Back for May 2

Answering questions from comments and email.

Jean asked . . .
The apple blossoms are lovely (are they fragrant?)

Not much of a scent. They're very fragile and only last a few days, but they are pretty.

Someone asked . . .
How do you keep track of which row you are on in the pattern? Do you use a row counter?

I dislike using a row counter. I breaks my knitting rhythm and once I start the next row I can never remember if I clicked the thing or not.

For simple and/or easy and/or obvious patterns, I can look at the stitches and tell which row I'm on. This is a skill that develops over the knitting years.

My favorite way to keep track of rows is to use plastic stitch markers. I slide one into a stitch of Row 1 of the pattern after I finish knitting it. When in doubt about where I am, I can always counts rows up from the marker in Row 1.

For patterns with many rows I also use a post it note, moving it when each row is done. That helps with keeping my place in the printed pattern.

Judy S. asked . . .
How do you like the Cotlin?

Very much.

Sprout is my second Cotlin sweater. A third is in the unfinished bucket waiting for attention, and I'm planning a fourth.

I've worn the Lighthouse Gansey many times and there's no pilling.

A great improvement over knitting with 100% cotton. It's easier on my hands to knit. It's lighter in weight. It washes without shrinking. It wears with hardly any relaxing. It feels good next to the skin.

I knit Cotlin at 6 stitches to the inch, a nice snug fabric. It may not behave as well at a looser gauge.

Dorothy asked . . .
Isn't it nice to know that spring always comes, even if it is not exactly on our timetable?

What a blessing to have an early spring this year.

Kathy commented . . .
I am so jealous of your new eggs. Keep sharing them with us!

If the eggs didn't get too cold during our frosty nights - several dipped below freezing - hatching is due midweek.

Daddy Bluebird is still watching over the nest. If he's optimistic, I'm optimistic.

Jennifer asked . . .
We were wondering how many to cast on for a med woman and a size 11 man?

Number of stitches to cast on is determined by circumference of ankle and/or foot, not length of foot.

For a person with average ankle/foot proportions, my unofficial guideline is:
  • Measure ankle. (Example - 9 inches)
  • Take ankle measurement times gauge. (Example - 9 inches times 8 stitches/inch = 72 stitches)
  • Subtract 10% for negative ease. (Example - 10% of 72 is 7. 72 - 7 = 65 stitches)
  • Adjust number of stitches to the multiple of the stitch pattern. I almost always go down. (Example - Stitch pattern is a multiple of 8, so cast on 64 stitches)

The simple, non mathematical answer to your question assuming a gauge of 8 stitches/inch: For a medium size woman, cast on 64 stitches. For a medium size man, cast on 72 stitches.

Toe shaping usually starts about 1.5 to 2 inches before end of toe.