Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas knitting recap

Whew. Now that all the gifts are opened and received, I can blog about them!

I knit three pairs of socks for Christmas - one for my brother, one for my mom, one for my dad. First up was my mom's pair. I knit these in the summertime.

FO: Mom's Christmas socks

(Rav details)

The yarn is Knit Picks Swish DK. (In fact, all the yarn for the socks is Swish DK.) I will always associate these socks with my Granddad, because I knit on them while hanging out in his hospital room this summer. I knit away on them while watching "Patton" and Westerns while he snoozed.

My mom really loves them - she posted a picture on Flickr this morning saying she wore them and said two things: 1. "These feel amazing!" 2. "I need to learn how to make these!" She is quickly growing bored with knitting scarves so I bet socks are soon on the horizon. :-)

FO: Josh's Christmas socks

(Rav details)

These were my brother's socks.

And these are my dad's socks:

FO: Dad's Christmas socks

(Rav details)

Please ignore the fact that one of my dad's socks is inside-out!

They each have size 13 feet, so DK socks were a great way to make the socks in no time flat.

Next up - hat and mittens for my brother's girlfriend, Megan.

FO: Megan's hat and mittens

I won't bother with the Rav link since they're just a basic ribbed hat and mittens with a 1x1 cuff and thumb gusset. I winged it and they turned out pretty nice, if I may say so myself. I bought the yarn for this (BMFA Icelandic) in Cannon Beach, Oregon. Hooray for using vacation yarn! It was about $30 for the skein, but I got the hat, two mittens and I'm going to get another hat out of what's left (for me!). So a good value, all in all. And the colors are lovely.

I'll be back later today or tomorrow with another FO post. I got a little carried away with my previous "end of 2009" wrap-up. I finished something after I posted that. Whoops!

Friday, December 25, 2009

2009: A Year in Knits

Merry Christmas, everyone! I've had this post in the works for a while and (now that Christmas gifts are given), I can share:

What I knit in 2009

By the numbers, here's what I knit in 2009:
13 pairs of socks (12 adult-sized, one baby-sized) (Also: seven for me, six for others)
six hats (five adult-sized, one baby-sized)
three shawlettes
two pairs of mittens/mitts
two scarves
two cowls
one baby sweater

I'm quite pleased with everything I knit this year. I have tallied my "mileage" at and I'm at 4.37 miles for the year. That is about 7,691 yards!

As for stashing - well, I made a dent in knitting down the sock yarn stash, until vacation came along. I think for the most part that I was mindful of my purchases - something I blogged about a year ago.

I accomplished two of my three knitting goals this year:

1. Knitting a lace shawl: I accomplished this with Ishbel.

2. Learning toe-up socks: Mostly done! I took a very fun class with Wendy Johnson a few months ago, where we learned toe-up cast-ons and how to turn a heel. I'm going to try to finish my first toe-up sock in the next few weeks - it's been on hiatus because of Christmas knitting.

I didn't get around to goal no. 3: knitting a sweater. (well, I knit a BSJ, but I had an adult-sized sweater in mind when I made that goal!) I think I'm more of an accessory knitter.

My knitting goals for 2010 include knitting at least 12 pairs of socks (one a month) and knitting a larger lace shawl.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry (week of) Christmas, y'all!

I'll be checking back in this weekend with a year-end knitting wrap-up post. Can't do it until my family opens their gifts, of course!

I'm still hard at work on the Mara shawl:

WIP: Mara shawl

I just have a few more rows to go, but with 500+ stitches on the needle, it's taking a while!

I knocked out a pair of tiny socks for a co-worker who's due in February:

FO: Baby socks

Each sock took less than 24 hours. So sweet! (They're made with the leftover Socks that Rock mediumweight in County Clare.)

Hope you're enjoying your holidays!

Friday, December 4, 2009

a non-update

Good morning! I'm still in Christmas-knitting land.

WIP: hat for my brother's girlfriend

This is a hat (since finished but not photographed) for my brother's girlfriend, Meg. It's knit out of BMFA Icelandic - a rather chunky single-ply yarn. I made the brim extra tall in the hopes of giving it extra warmth for winter in Ohio. The skein was enormous, so I'm hoping to get a pair wrist/arm warmers out of it, too. Or maybe mittens. I'm not sure I have it mittens in me - there's something rather soothing and not threatening about the idea of just knitting up a tube for wrist warmers.

Other than that, I've got about half a sock left and my Christmas knitting will be DONE. It will be a relief, but I remembered this week that my co-worker is due to have a baby in early February and I haven't started a gift for her. (I'm thinking of knitting a sock monkey toy.) And so it will begin again...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm cooking on Thanksgiving for the first time (just for Josh and me). On the menu is Alton Brown's city ham, creamy mashed potatoes, whiskey-glazed carrots, and the ubiquitous green bean casserole. For dessert I'm making key lime bars and a Tollhouse pie. (Yes, I realize that two desserts for two people is kind of ridiculous, but we've gotta have choices, people.)

Today is my final furlough day of the year for work (and I hope it's my final furlough day ever). I'm going to spend it doing some cooking prep and knitting, of course. I'm on my final pair of Christmas socks (my brother's). And a few days ago, in a fit of temptation, I cast on for a Mara shawl in Noro Silk Garden Lite:

WIP: Mara Shawl

It's quite lovely but I'm trying to resist the temptation of working on it again until I finish my brother's socks.

The past two Thanksgivings have not been especially happy for me (thanks to various things happening in my life right around Turkey Day), but I'm so relieved to say that in spite of losing my granddad two months ago, and not being with my family in Ohio, this will be a happy holiday for me. I'm feeling very, very fortunate this year.

So happy Thanksgiving, everyone! May it be a lovely day for you all.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My yarn-cation

Really, my vacation could be called a yarn-cation. When I packed my very full suitcase for our trip, I thought "how am I going to fit yarn in here, too?" But it all worked out somehow.

First LYS I visited was Tricoter in Seattle. I wanted to visit Tricoter because it's the only store in Seattle to carry Blue Moon Fiber Arts. We had to drive there from downtown but found it easily with the GPS. It was a very busy place - there must've been half a dozen knitters sitting around tables in the front, knitting and chatting away. But ... no one greeted me. I wandered around, looking for the Socks that Rock, which wasn't easy to spot because everything is arranged by color in the perimeter of the store - lovely to look at, but it makes finding a specific brand or weight of yarn a bit difficult. I made several loops of the perimeter, still didn't spot it, and was about to give up when I noticed some bins near the register that had sock yarn in it. Success! The prices were a bit higher than I expected but eventually a clerk came up to me and told me that everything in the store was 15% off because of the recession. Well, that's cool. Here's what I ended up with:

STR lightweight in Seal Rock:
Socks that Rock Lightweight, Seal Rock

STR lightweight in Tricoter:
Socks that Rock Lightweight, Tricoter

STR lightweight in The Claw:
Socks that Rock Lightweight, The Claw

As I was browsing the sock yarn, I deduced from the conversation that one of the women sitting at the front and knitting actually worked there. But she didn't offer to help as I wandered around with a quizzical look on my face. And the knitters at tables made it hard to get to some of the yarn for sale. It takes a lot for me to be disappointed in a shopping experience (I always give the benefit of the doubt), but I have to say that the Yelp reviews for this store seem to be accurate. Normally, if I feel I've had poor customer service, I won't spend money at the business. But on vacation -- and at one of the few stores that carry my favorite brand of yarn -- I am not about to do that.

On the upside, I met a really nice Raveler and we talked about her Cotty socks in progress and pooling. I wish I had caught her name! I think she was in the Socks that Rock group, too ...

Later that day, I passed up the chance to go to So Much Yarn in Seattle **as we walked by the building.** That takes major restraint, doesn't it??

A few days later, I hit up Coastal Yarns in Cannon Beach, Oregon. They had a great selection of BMFA (including non-sock yarn) and I chatted with the shop owner, who has a sister in Virginia Beach. Small world!

Coastal Yarn

I ended up getting these goodies:

STR lightweight in ST-1 (perhaps my favorite Socks that Rock purchase of the trip):
Socks that Rock Lightweight, ST-1

STR mediumweight in Plankton Ooze:
STR Mediumweight, Plankton Ooze

BMFA Icelandic (really chunky yarn) in Bejewelled:
BMFA Icelandic in Bejewelled

This will become a Christmas gift hat for my brother's girlfriend. I'm hoping I can get two hats out of the skein, actually!

This brings me to my first yarny stop in Portland: Twisted. I walked in and couldn't believe my ears - my beloved Tom Waits was playing ever so quietly over the speakers! Between that, the copious amounts of sock yarn for sale and the general happy vacation mood I was in, I could've cried of happiness. They have couches and tea available, too. (If I lived in Portland, I think I'd never leave this store.)

The shop owner (I think her name was Shannon?) was really friendly as I browsed. They got a delivery as I browsed and were oohing and aahing, and they insisted I come take a look. It was two enormous boxes of Hazel Knits Artisan Sock.

Oh. my. gah. It was like yarn heaven. Each colorway was more vibrant than the next. I ended up buying three skeins:

Hazel Knits Artisan Sock, Jay Blue

Hazel Knits Artisan Sock, Pacific

Hazel Knits Artisan Sock, Purple Hazel

From top: Jay Blue, Pacific, Purple Hazel.

I also got some stunning red Indigo Moon sock yarn (which comes from British Columbia):
Indigo Moon in West Coast Sunset

I saw this emerald green yarn and immediately thought of socks for my green-loving mom:

Black Trillium Merilon Sock in Midnight Emerald

And I got this Socks that Rock colorway I had been coveting - Alf-a:

Socks that Rock Lightweight, Alf-a

Only after I picked up all that sock yarn did I even walk to the other side of the store. They had tons of Dream in Classy (including DiC Groovy, a chunkyweight version I had never seen before) but I just couldn't even think about buying more yarn considering my hands were already full with six skeins...

Oh, how I will wish forever that Twisted were my LYS. And that's all I have to say about that.

The next day, I ended up stopping at Knit/Purl, which was only a couple blocks from our hotel. I was only going to browse, and then I saw a wall of MadelineTosh sock yarn, and well, I went weak in the knees ...

Madeline Tosh Sock, Clematis

That's MadTosh sock in Clematis.

Hand Maiden Cashbah in Masala:
Hand Maiden Casbah in Masala

I am thinking this would be a scrumptious Simple Yet Effective shawl. (Yes, I realize I already own two of these ...) The yarn is so soft I just can't bear the idea of putting it on my feet instead of around my neck.

Knit/Purl was a perfectly lovely store. They carried a bunch of fancier yarns - Tilli Thomas, Habu and oh yes they have a wall of Koigu. My purchases were wrapped in tissue paper and sealed with a Knit/Purl sticker - so opening them when I got back to Virginia felt like Christmas!

And that is my yarn-cation, in a blog post. I must admit that I feel rather spoiled (and a little guilty) talking about my yarn purchases on vacation. It is very unlike me to spend that much money in one fell swoop - on yarn or anything more important! But I budgeted for it, and I stayed within my budget, so I'm happy. And I don't think I'll be buying yarn for quite some time!

Friday, November 6, 2009

vacation in pictures (and a few words)

My trip to the Pacific Northwest was really, really lovely. I can't stress that enough. It was just what I needed. We spent time in Seattle first ... (click to embiggen the photos)

Puget Sound

Space Needle

... before hitting up the Olympic Peninsula to visit Olympic National Park.

Lake Crescent

Josh + something really big

We did some hiking, saw animals (salmon and black-tail deer and starfish!) and spent lots of time reading and (in my case) knitting. Then we drove down the coast to a beachfront condo in Netarts, Oregon.


view from Cape Meares


The beaches in Oregon (and Washington) are just magnificent. They're so wide and rocky and (at least the ones I saw) mostly devoid of homes.

We rounded out our trip in Portland, where I didn't use my camera as much. (Then again, we were there for only 30 hours.) We had breakfast with a friend who used to work with us, and she snapped a nice shot of us.

If you'd like to see more pictures, check out my album at Flickr.

There was plenty of knitting time on the plane and in the car (Josh did all the driving). I knit a sock and a half out of Socks that Rock mediumweight in County Clare before we returned home. I also knit the foot and gusset of my first toe-up sock.

I finished the County Clare socks soon after we returned:

FO: County Clare traveling socks

This is the 10th pair of socks I've knit in 2009. I can't believe it! I plan on ending up with a minimum of 12 pairs knit in 2009: I'm making a pair of socks for my brother and dad for Christmas.

As for Christmas knitting this year? I'm making my mom, dad and brother each a pair of socks and my brother's girlfriend a hat. Mom's are done and I just finished the first sock in Dad's pair last night. I've cast on for its mate already. I'm knitting my Christmas socks out of Knit Picks Swish DK - it's a nice workhorse yarn. And that's it for Christmas knitting! I'm glad I don't have a ton of pressure to knit for many more people. I know my family will love whatever I make for them. I'm already plotting for next year to increase my sock production and knit each of them a pair of socks for their birthdays, too ...

I'll be back in a day or two with a post about my vacation yarn purchases. I got some really excellent yarn and I can't wait to tell you about it!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

I'm back!

Vacation was a blast.

vacation jumpity

(click for a bigger version)

That's me on the big, beautiful beach of Oceanside, Oregon. I have lots of pictures (779!) to go through and upload to flickr ... so I'll be back later this week with a full report, including my yarn haul!

Monday, October 19, 2009

vacation hats

In my last post, I fretted about finishing a hat for Josh before we left for vacation on Thursday. Well, not only did I finish it, I knit another hat, too!

First up - Josh's hat:

FO: ribbed hat for Josh

Yarn: Patons Classic Merino
US 6 needles, 2x2 rib, 112 stitches
Time to knit: nine days

He has a big noggin, so I was worried about the fit. But it turned out great! I hope it comes in handy as we explore the Pacific Northwest.

I knit this next hat in two days:

FO: Ribbed hat

The yarn is Farmhouse Yarns Andy's Merino II - a really lofty and soft single ply that feels like it's on its way to being chunky instead of worsted. I used size 9 needles and switched to size 8 once I got to the crown. It is delightfully cozy and I would love to work with this yarn again (if only it weren't $19 a skein ... sigh ... I will be able to get a baby hat out of the leftovers, at least.)

Ribbed hat from the back

I settled on some vacation knitting, too: I cast on a pair of simple stockinette socks in STR Mediumweight in County Clare (possibly my favorite yarn colorway of all time), and I'll be bringing my toe-up sock-in-progress and my long-suffering Clapotis. This will likely be my last post before our trip - I'll be back with a full report sometime after Halloween!

Friday, October 16, 2009

this and that

I have a few FOs to show off - including one that was finished nearly a month ago. Things have just been so crazy around here, though, that I just haven't had time to blog. First up, a Simple Yet Effective Shawl (rav link):

FO: Cloud Shawlette

Yarn: Fibre Company Canopy Fingering in Palm Bud (two skeins, 400 yards)
Time to knit: five weeks on and off
Size: 21” by 46”

Texture of Cloud Shawlette

This was really dreamy to work with. The yarn has a bit of alpaca in it, though, so fibers kept coming off and making my nose itch. But post-blocking, it's a soft, cozy dream.

So dreamy!

Next up is the Birthday Cowl (rav link), made to match my beret.

FO: Birthday cowl

Yarn: Dream in Color Classy in Blue Lagoon (about one skein - alternated between two dyelots)
Time to knit: about 3 weeks

Only one picture to show, as my mom snapped it for me during a little break from working at my granddad's house. I'm quite happy with how it turned out.

And finally, a little bit of stash acquisition made when I signed up for Wendyknit's toe-up sock class a few weeks ago.

Misti Alpaca Lace

It's the perfect color for a shawl for my grandma. Now that I've made my mom a little lace scarf, I'd like to make one for my grandma. This is a pale sage green that I think would be perfect for her.

I leave for vacation in less than a week (yikes!) and I have a lot to do before then. I'm making a plain black wool watchcap for my boyfriend (with a huge 24" noggin) and I'm trying to finish it in time to wash/block it before we leave. I need to make a list of restaurants we might want to check out (I've already done this for yarn stores). And, most important to a knitter, I need to decide what knitting to bring! Do I bring my half-finished Clapotis? Yarn for a plain stockinette sock or two? Cast on a unprecedented third Simple Yet Effective Shawl? Decisions, decisions ...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

my Granddad

My granddad passed away tonight, Oct. 3. His health had gotten progressively worse since I visited there two weeks ago. He entered hospice care Thursday, my parents arrived this morning, and he passed away with my dad by his side.

I didn't really blog about my trip there two weeks ago - but now I should share that it was truly wonderful. My parents and I arrived at the nursing home, and when we went into his room, he wasn't there. Then we heard this shout from across the hall: "Hey, baby!" where he was in physical therapy. It was a lovely day, sunny and temperatures in the mid-60s, so we wheeled him outside, where my dad gave him a shave and combed his hair.

Granddad gets a shave

He was really snappy - I don't know how else to describe it. We were talking about football, and my dad made a crack about Penn State (my alma mater). I responded saying something about how they were in the top 10, and my granddad slyly said, "Yeah, but counting from which end?" Then there was his statement upon seeing a certain nurse leave for the day: "If you ever want to get castrated, well ..." My mom responded with "Well, Dad, I hate to tell you but I don't have the equipment for that!" He laughed and laughed. It really was a wonderful afternoon and I'm so thankful we had such a lovely day together.

Granddad and me

This picture is from November 2008. I was in Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving and my family and I had breakfast with Granddad at his favorite - his only - breakfast place. This is how I will remember my granddad - in his watchcap outside of Tom's on the South Side. I'll be going to sleep tonight thinking about all the Saturdays he came out to our house in Eighty Four, Pa., to help my dad build a deck, and how he always took time to show me basketball moves. I am exhausted and can't think of much else to say except that I'll miss you very much, Granddad.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Happy Socktober!

Just stopping by to wish everyone a happy first day of Socktober!

I have finished eight pairs of socks this year (seven of which can be found here). I'll definitely have at least three more finished (all gift knits) -- maybe not in Socktober, but definitely before the end of the year (because two of the three are Christmas gifts). That means I just need to knit one more pair to make it a pair a month for all of 2009!

I am slooowly working on my toe-up socks:

sock progress

Pattern is Dead Simple Lace Socks from Wendy Johnson's new book.

These are on the back burner for now, though -- I've got two other projects that are taking priority right now - my vacation cowl and socks for my running buddy. My knitting goals for my weekend are finishing the cowl, which is 75% done, and casting on the mate to the first sock, which is done. I'm hoping I can get to the heel of that sock this weekend. Shouldn't be too hard, since they're relatively short-cuffed:

WIP: Diana's Marathon socks

What are your knitting priorities right now?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Your eyes do not deceive ...

WIP: a toe-up sock!

That is a toe-up sock!

I found out via e-mail Thursday night that there were a few openings in a toe-up sock class with Wendy Johnson (of Wendyknits) Saturday morning. I had heard about this a while ago from my SnB pals but wrote it off because I thought they were afternoon classes, and I work in the afternoon. I called the yarn store immediately Thursady night, got signed up, and went over first thing Friday morning to pay.

Class was very fun -- a whirlwind of learning Judy's Magic Cast-on followed by learning a toe-up slip-stitch heel. I can't even believe I made this heel from the bottom up:

class work

Wendy was very fun. A bunch of us stayed after class to have lunch with her, too. Here are some of my SnB gals and me with Wendy (and our heels!):

Wendy + our heels!

(I am sorry your head is cut off, Tasha!!)

I bought Wendy's new book, "Socks From the Toe Up," and had it signed ... and I've already cast on for the Dead Simple Lace Socks in Dream in Color Smooshy (as seen in the first pic). Here's hoping I pull off my first pair of toe-up socks! I'm knitting them on DPNs but think I will soon succumb to the lure of the circular needles ... I worked on some in class and they were dreamy and oh-so easy ...