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November, 2007:

Mini Mitten Christmas tree ornament

Mini Mitten Christmas tree ornament

Originally uploaded by bjk4

I’m sort of between projects and needed something for my hands to do during the Green Bay-Dallas game last night. So I took a little bit of leftover sock yarn and did up Andrea’s mini mitten ornament. They’re so cute (that’s them in her hand). Her pattern is in our DIY section (and Ravelry) if you’d like to try it. (She’s such a clever girl!)

Finished Project! Tunnel Lace Scarf

Originally uploaded by AMK

I started this scarf in August or September, on one of those days when the weather was just cool enough that I was starting to think about fall being on its way. I finished knitting it very quickly, but of course it sat around for a long time with its ends unwoven.

The yarn is some Sirdar Tropicana I got on clearance many months ago (I see now that it’s discontinued). I’ve set myself a goal to knit from my stash for a while, and this was attempt #1. I’m not usually a big fan of acrylic yarns, but I have to say I was really happy with this yarn.

The stitch pattern is the tunnel lace pattern from the Harmony Guides 450 Knitting Stitches (vol. 2). I like how it creates a lofty ribbing.

Tunnel lace scarf detail

I knitted a short scarf, then divided the stitches in half and knitted each side separately, then grafted the ends of the two sides together to form a hole.

Tunnel lace scarf

I was going to write up the pattern, but that’s about all there is to it. It’s always so nice to start off the winter with a new scarf.

Pod People

The holiday knitting continues apace. And there’s still not much I can say about it. I’m getting so close to being finished with Mystery Christmas Present #1. So close it hurts. Actually, with winter charging its way toward us inexorably, my hands have gotten dryer and dryer, and as I furiously knitted Mystery Christmas Present #1 last night, the scratchy wool plus my dry hands made for an uncomfortable combination. I’ve seen some talk about Burt’s Bees Hand Salve as a good option for knitters; I may have to try that. Hand lotion + knitting needles made for a slippery situation last night. But I have very little of this scratchy wool project left to finish, so I think I’ll survive.
But! What I really wanted to talk about was knitting podcasts. Monday night in our household is World of Warcraft/Heroes night. Brad plays WOW with his friends, and I watch Heroes at 8:00. (Sadly, this ritual will only go on for one more week because the writer’s strike has cut the Heroes season short.) Before and after Heroes is on, I like to listen to podcasts or audio books while I knit. With Brad safely ensconced in the computer room, I don’t have to worry about bugging him. Last night, I downloaded a podcast I’d never listened to before – Stash and Burn. Brad came out to get a drink of water or something, and it suddenly dawned on me how silly the scene must have seemed to him. Here I was knitting and listening to two people talk about knitting. I told him I was busy knitting with my “friends”.
The first podcast I ever listened to was Cast On by Brenda Dayne. This podcast is so professionally done and so consistently interesting that it has actually ruined the entire realm of podcasts for me. I didn’t get into podcasts in the early days when they were all completely unprofessional. Cast On was the first podcast I listened to and therefore the standard to which I held all other podcasts. And they all fell short. I’ve had to relax my expectations a little bit and now I’m listening to some other podcasts as well. I really enjoyed Stash and Burn. Yes, it doesn’t have the same level of production as Cast On, but it’s a different sort of beast. It’s a casual conversation between two knitting friends, and has a relaxed and comfortable feeling to it unlike the stilted nature of so many other podcasts.
So. In short: you should really listen to Cast On and also to Stash and Burn. You will feel like you’re not just sitting in a room knitting all by yourself. Even though you are.

Casting on loosely

Originally uploaded by bjk4

Especially for newbies, and especially with tiny needles or loosely structured yarns, it can be challenging to knit the first row. I’ve seen beginners in tears over it. So here’s a little trick you can use to get a loose cast-on so the first row isn’t such a challenge. (The photo shows a long-tail cast-on but I think this would work for most others as well.)
When you cast on, lay a second needle alongside the needle you’re going to actually use for your project, and then cast on your stitches around both needles as though they were one. Unless you’re using really tiny needles like the 0′s shown, you’ll probably want to have the second needle a bit smaller than your project needle so the stitches don’t get too loose. Once your stitches are all cast on, just slip the second needle out. You should have a nice, neat row of loosely cast on stitches that you don’t have to fight with on your first row.

Hmmm …

Hmmm ...

Some projects have problems, flawed from the outset. It’s as simple as that. Like, fair aisle will make a pattern so tight the sock won’t stretch over your heel. Why didn’t I know that would happen? I guess I never tried to do fair aisle in a sock, so I learned something.

Well … maybe it could be, oh, a hand puppet wearing an argyle sweater … or ….

Mini Mitten Ornament Pattern

Originally uploaded by AMK

We decided to put up a new DIY section to collect patterns we’ve written, recipes we’ve invented, or any other instructions for how to make things.

Because it seemed so timely, I decided to start with this pattern for making mini mitten ornaments. I came up with this several years ago, and knitted these ones for a Christmas gift for my Grandma.

These are so quick to knit, once your fingers get used to the awkwardness of knitting 18 stitches on size 1 DPNs. And they’re a great way to get some use out of all that leftover sock yarn threatening to take over your house (or is that just me?)

Progress photo

Progress photo

Originally uploaded by bjk4

Progress photo
Well, this is hard … and I might end up declaring this a practice sock. I need to think a little bit about “yarn management.” It’s a challenge to keep the strands of yarn from getting all wound around each other to the point where you just have to stop and straighten things out again.

But, hey, it is looking like argyle, and it is knitted in the round.

Getting started

Getting started

Originally uploaded by bjk4

I’ve set myself a challenge … knitting argyle socks in the round.

More later … as things progress (or don’t)!

Pumpkin Cheesecake

pumpkin cheesecake

Originally uploaded by bjk4

Well, we celebrated Thanksgiving at my house yesterday so we could have Steph with us (I put her on a plane back to Boston this morning … ). Everyone helped and it was lots of fun.

I made a new dessert that everyone liked, pumpkin cheesecake. I deviated from the printed word in only one respect: I used 2 cups of pumpkin puree instead of one because … well, what do you do with the other half a can of pumpkin, and also I really love pumpkin!


Link Monday

Have you see the Daily Knitter’s Free Knitting Pattern of the Day? It’s kind of a nice way to find out about some of the better free patterns out there on the internet. The Buccaneer’s Booty Socks linked to today are pretty funny. Also worth looking at on Crafty Diversion, the same website as the Buccaneer’s Booty Socks: Instructions for how to make your own swift for about $15. Wow. I can make a lot of things, but the thought of conceiving of and then constructing a swift absolutely blows my mind.