Thursday, July 26, 2007

I love it when a plan comes together

A little while ago (Alright, it was probably months, I am bad at keeping track of these things...) bets, over at the Elann chat center asked us what patterns we had made that worked well, were not too complex, and that we would make again and again - our standbys.

Well, I finally found one, and I am mucho proud, because I have a FINISHED OJECT! (Aside from socks, when was the last time I finished something? And the aforementioned bets has made, like, a dozen sweaters and seventeen accessories since then?)

Can you possibly guess what pattern this is?

If you guessed Wisp (Which can be found in the summer 07 issue of but which for some reason refused repeatedly to be a workable link) congratulations!

Of course it looks very different in Knitty. There, it is made with one ball of laceweight mohair, and it is ethereal to the max. However, I had very little time to do this, and made it for a friend who was going in for surgery. I wanted her to have a Woobie, one she could use as a teddy bear, or a pillow, or a shawl, as she happened to see fit at any moment. I wanted one her family could not felt in the washing machine. And we all know I have a deep, deep fear of blocking, so it had to be at least acceptable right off the needles.

Benne told me years ago that she had made a number of shawls from Lion Brand Homespun and that they had survived the wars, so to speak, and it comes in a plethora of interesting colors, available very conveniently in the nearest AC Moore, with coupon. (I have a ton of this in my very own basement, but Feltdemort could not bear the thought of my cracking open the stash and letting God alone knows what OUT, so he told me to just buy some more...Well, ok, Break MY arm...)

I must now extole the virtues of this combination, and they are many...

I cast on 48 stitches. Somewhere along the line I lost two. I kept going on 46. You can't tell.

I had numerous times during the very quick-time-pressured knitting of this shawl where I found myself one or two short or over, and I made it up by adding one or two where I thought it wouldn't be noticeable, or leaving out a knit two together, or I threw in a yarn over where I thought it wouldn't hurt - between the end four stitches and the lace part on the first row of a lace section. You can't tell.

The pattern is incredibly simple, memorized in about 22 seconds, so you don't need to carry it with you. To make it even simpler, I left out the buttonholes on the sides, figuring if I dedided to add buttons I could also add some way to button them, later. I did not add buttons.

This dark blue shawl was all over the couch, the floor, the car, my son, etc. while being knit. You can't tell.

It was not prohibitively expensive to knit. I used less than two skeins. With a coupon or two, this is less than ten dollars.

It does not look cheesy. It looks very pretty.

It can be almost any length. I stopped when I ran out of time, and it is long enough to wear with a shawl pin. I could have kept going with the yarn in the second skein, which I used less than half of, and had a luxuriously long shawl. If I had reduced the number of stitches I cast on, I could have made it shorter, with buttons, like the original.

I did not try killing it, because I did not have time to test a swatch and see whether I liked it that way or not, but I am planning such an experiment for the future.

I think my friend liked it. She is the sort of person who gives handmade gifts, so she was likely to, and she seemed to. I was not going to be able to visit her in the hospital, so I felt like I was sending a hug along. And I was able to avoid the post office.

Win, Win, Win, Win, Win. I will be making this again, and in other yarns.

PS. It is reported that all went well.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

I have the coolest Mom ever

I got a call from my mother today - the same mother I have lured over to the dark side. (MWAHAHAHA - see earlier post on this topic)

It is not at all surprising to get a call from my mother. It happens several times a day. Usually, though, the topics are, well, the usual. How am I, what she has eaten so far today, her plans for her vacation/Christmas shopping/painting/artshow - stuff like that. Today she surprised me, however. (She has always been able to surprise me, so this is not really a trend, more a constantly recurring state of affairs.)

"Which Harry Potter character do you think I would be?" she asked without preamble.

There is more than one way to answer the question, of course. Which character do I think she would most like to be is one way, and which character I think she is most like is the obvious second. There is a slight problem in that my mother is totally different from anyone else I have ever met in my life, and has never fit into a pigeon-hole. I gave her the best answer I could.

"Well, if you are being your working self, then MacGonagall, but if you are being your Mama-Bear self, then Molly Weasley. Although Molly can be a little petty and you aren't ever."

Apparantly her first thought had been Minerva as well, but she was surprised by Molly. I hastened to add, "and she is an excellent cook, less in the first book but very much so in the later ones. And Very protective of her children."

I wouldn't say either one of these two is exactly like my mom: most pressingly, she would have told Harry about Voldemort's plans, or, rather, she would have gone into Dumbledores office and explained to him with great fervor why it was necessary for him to do it. My mother is not one for keeping kids in the dark about possible dangers. The books would have had a lot less drama if she were in them. I know this because while my life has had its share of stupidity, none of it has been ridiculously easily avoidable drama.

Hmmm...she's better at being Molly than Molly is. If I ever meet Mrs. Weasley I will have to rub that in a little. Sometimes she gets on my nerves...

And why is this on my knitting blog? Because with the Hogwarts sock swaps, my knitting and my Pottering are intertwined.

And, oh, I may have forgotten to tell you...Mom is a Gryffindor. I was not sure whether she'd sort Claw, but she was adament. No, she is a Gryff. And now it is out here for the world to know. Godric, wherever you are, take it as a compliment. She is not, and never has been, much of a joiner!

Friday, July 13, 2007

I knit, I sent, and I received...

I finally finished the Hogwarts socks I have been torturing for the last few months and sent them off to my poor victim with a few other goodies.

I am very proud of these socks. My pal is obviously a Hufflepuff, and I decided to go with two themes - Goblet of Fire, which is the book the Huffs appear in best and most (Remember Cedric Diggory....) and flowers, because Professor Sprout is, after all, their Head of House. The socks are strictly GoF...the top pattern is false flame stitch, representing the Dragon task. The stitches around the ankle looked like bubbles to me, although Barbara Walker mistakenly thought they looked like something else, and I put them in for the lake challenge - Diggory used the BubbleHead charm, after all... and the foot is a mosaic pattern, also BW, called Maze. I'm sure you know why I chose that one.

Knitting it became a little complicated. As it turned out, I got almost identical guages on the upper half of the sock using two entirely different sizes of knitting needles. I got confused. On the first sock I used size 000, on the second, slightly smallish size 0's. I pulled really tightly on the second sock, and you can only see any difference at all if you inspect them with a gimlet eye. I think one ended up about a 32nd of an inch longer. But trust me, I had to LOOK.

The maze portion took a lot of ripping, because the mosaic portion contracts in length, and so to have the top and the bottom of the sock, which was just striped, the smae length, I had to use size 00 on the bottom and size 1 on the top. At least I think it was size one. I would recognize the needles if I saw them again...

Why did this seem to me to be easier, simpler, than just putting the mosaic pattern all the way around? Beats me entirely.

If I did it again I would use an even larger needle on the mosaic, or more stitches, and I would forget the stripes and put it all the way around.

I am tryng to write up this pattern and post it here so that others in the second HSS will be able to use it if they want to. Quite likely no one will be crazy enough, but it was really a simple pattern excpet for the changing needles, and I won't try that again... well, unless there is no other way to do it!

I put a knitted purse with a flower on it in the box, along with a pin, the hematite stitch markers you all gave me advice about, two sets of double points, a special stitch holder that has wooden cups at both ends and an elastic connecting them - you make all your needles parallel, and then slip the cups over the ends. Voila - nothing will poke out your bag, and no stitches get lost! I figured out how to make it from things I've seen, and I am so proud of myself! I threw in some yellow sock shaped point protectors was well, in case she likes those better. I also threw in a yellow plastic easter egg with a little bit of yarn for darning...there was not much of the yellow left - and a needle. I wanted it to be super terrific and I don't think I equalled some of the boxes I've seen here, but I hope I did not embarrass myself either, or disappoint my pal. I agree with others here - that would be the worst!

I also got my box from my pal! She is Terri of, and does she know how to pack a swap box!

First, the socks! They are hand-dyed yarn in Gryffindor's colorway, with a lightning bolt of purl stitches down the middle of the front between two rows of what I am pretty sure are horseshoe cables. She designed these herself, and they are perfect - The lightning bolt is Harry's scar, so that covers Book 7, and the horseshoe cables? Well, those are the footprints of the centaurs or the Thestrals, and work perfectly for the movie. Two, two, two perfections in one, if I may murder the old Doublemint gum commercials... These socks went on vacation with her, and I would like to point out a lovely example of interhouse unity - the camel on the postcard from the vacation location is wearing Ravenclaw colors...

I prefer metal needles, and so she sent me the terrific just-about-every-smaller-size-of-needle-you-could-possibly-want set from Susan Bates. There are four sets of needles in there! The package also included a tin of hand cream, a tinned candle, the rest of the wool from my socks, so I can darn them and great stitch markers that she made herself.

The most amazing "Extra", however, is the skein of sock yarn. It is hand dyed by a lady in Wales named Dee, who runs Posh Yarns, and the colorway, which she calls "Deep Water" is exactly what I would have chosen for myself. It is a cashmere blend and way, way softer than you can even imagine I will have to search long and hard before I find a pattern deserving of being knit up in this!

All in all, I have to say that my first swap feels like a great success to me, and I only hope the person who will soon be in receipt of the box I sent feels the same way!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Second Hogwarts Sock Swap!!!

I have finished torturing the Goblet of Fire Socks - photos when I get them uploaded. There is a downside to having a one Gig memory card in the camera - when you get around to uploading, it takes FOREVER...

But, in the meantime, I am going to answer my questionaire for the second swap... I invite you to join us! (Don't worry, you won't get stuck with me - I'm going to be a "Second Year!" *preens and struts*

Hogwarts Sock Swap Questionnaire
Second Years

1. What Hogwarts house have you been sorted into?


2. Shoe size? Foot length? Foot circumference?

Technically, I am an 8 and 1/2 triple E. This is a very hard
size to get, so usually I just buy a nine, sigh, and feel sorry for
my pinkie toes.

My feet are 9 and 3/4 inches long (like the platform) and 9 and 3/4 inches
around (Also like the platform. In fact, sometimes when I look down at them
they look almost as big as a train platform, or I wish they were on a train
platform, or....)

I have to say I like my socks with some negative ease in the width. They
can be as long as my feet, but if they are as wide, then they feel loose and
sloppy and I feel like I am running around in public wearing pajamas
with no underoos... This is probably just a personal quirk and I assure the
universe that you are all free to like your socks loose. I just like mine

3. List your three favorite sock yarns.

I am pretty sure some of these are not
made anymore, and I have not tried tons, but I will list three anway...

a. Socka

b. Silja

c. Socka Cotton

4. Would you like to try a new brand of sock yarn? If so, which brand?

Hmmm...yes, I might, and I think it would be nice if it was very soft and
fairly tightly spun, like Koigu, but I know from experience it had better
be superwash... from sad, sad, experience...

5. Do you prefer variegated or solid sock yarn?

I prefer solids. I might like a variegated, but I
DO NOT like self-patterning.

6. What colors would you like to add to your sock yarn stash?

Vivid, pretty ones! Purples, pinks, blues, greens (But not Kelly/Saint
Patrick's day green)reds, or vivid autumn colors like rusts, purples, deep

7. What kind of sock patterns do you gravitate toward? Lace? Ribbed? Fair Isle?
I gravitate towards really interesting patterns, as most simple ones I can
figure out for myself. I like lace, some Fair Isle, and more complicated

8. Do you have any allergies? (smoke, animals, etc.)

I am allergic to smoke, but as far as I know I am not allergic to pet
animals or fibers.

9. Will your socks be exposed to cigarette smoke or animals as you knit them?

No, not at all. We have no pets and no one smokes here. I don't take my
knitting anywhere where people smoke either, now that I think of it.

10. Are you willing to have an international Hogwarts Sock Pal?