Category Archives: knitting

Forest Path Stole re-beginnings

If all knitting is a combination of knit stitches and purl stitches, I should be able to knit any pattern, right? I started Faina Letoutchaia’s Forest Path Stole a year ago and got confused by the entrelac. I found instructions online and mastered entrelac by making a couple scarves.

Pink entrelac scarf

Entrelac looks like this

I was still stymied by the p5tog (for my non-knitter friends, that means make FIVE stitches into one stitch, getting one thread through five loops, and you thought just getting the thread through one loop without a hook was a challenge…).

Lily of the Valley stitch

p5tog looks like this

I practiced for a while then put it aside.  I just got it out again, prepared to spend big bucks for ebony needles which one friend said did the trick. However, I had previously bought Addi lace needles, but not yet tried them. I felt obligated to at least try them before using this wonderful reason–um, excuse–to buy ebony. And alas, they worked.

It also may have helped that I reread the instructions.  The previous row where the five stitches are made from one stitch was to be worked in the back loop. I had missed that detail and done it the routine way in the front loop.  Between the two, the needles and the correction, I am ready to move beyond practice soon. The left side of the sample is closer to what it should look like than the right, but a little more practice should have my knitting in shape.

To see others that have been finished you can search on Ravelry (link to right) or click here for a Flickr site. (Well I am having trouble making the link work, but use the link then search “forest path stole” and you will get there.) The target photo shows the three lace patterns in great detail.


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A knitting focused weekend

Yep, I finished the pair that was demanding attention last week!  They turned out to be 6 3/4 inch instead of 7 1/2.  I noticed my gauge changed significantly between the flat swatch and knitting in the round and modified the plan accordingly.


Socks made alternating two left-over yarns

Do you see the variation in the feet?  The yarn ball had a knot, and not only had the company skipped colors in the self striping pattern, they also reversed the direction.  Oh well, I don’t think it is too obvious and it is inside most shoes.

This weekend I have been knitting for the sock drive for Mittens for Akkol (a Yahoo group and also a Ravelry group). As I understand the goal, it is for a pair of socks for each child in the two orphanages they knit for, Akkol and Urupinka, and the total comes to around 500 pair.  We have till December, but they get off to a good start with a virtual slumber party/knitting weekend. The emails have been most creative and bring back memories of Girl Scout Camps in days gone by.

My goal WAS a pair of large sized thin socks.  It has been modified to one sock of the pair!  Who knew how much more knitting was involved in size 12 than the 10 1/2 I am used to making for me!

Here is progress so far.


Almost ready to knit the foot part.

I did think to buy three skeins of this yarn to be sure to have enough for the large size; then I realized if I bought 2 more I could make two pair and maybe have less left over yarn to use up. So I called the store and they are holding two for me.

Are you a knitter? Search for the group on either Yahoo or Ravelry and see what we are up to. Maybe you could join the project!

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Fading Charms quilt–and other projects–in medias res

I have the center of my Fading Charms quilt together, and am about to audition it for background fabric.  I have modified the Fading Charms  quilt to become a crib sized quilt made from pieces approximately 1 1/4 inches approximately square.

Quilt center made with small scrappy squares

Quilt Center

For three years I got boxes of samples of fabric available from Keepsake in NH. I always felt they should be used for something.  Plan A had been to use them as leaders and enders and make four-patch blocks that could become cornerstones when sashing a scrappy quilt. But then I saw the Fading Charm tutorial and decided to make it without having to cut.  Because the pieces are not exact, I threw out what few perfectionist tendencies I still have.  Nor did I count how many pieces I have. If there are not enough, I’ll figure something out then. I might even cut some.

Hindsight. It would have been better to make a smaller center and a six-deep border, then the four…

I am debating between sunshine yellow and lime green “the new neutral” for the background. Dark looks good, but this is for a child; white looks good, but this could end up being washed in a river–it will go to Sunshine (see link to the side).

And I am deep into sock making.  I have to keep several pair going in various stages so that one is always ready to take to knitting group meetings.  The bottleneck is turning the heel. I like to do that step when I am not also trying to carry on a conversation.

Gray-yellow multi swatch

Gray-yellow multi swatch

The gray-yellow yarn is mystery yarn–no label. I’ll have to test whether it is wool or not. The gold-green-lavender  for the toe-up sock is made from corn.

toe-up sock start--yarn is made from corn

Toe-up sock start

One sock pair finished

Toe-up sock finished

This finished toe-up black-brown pair took three tries. I did a swatch, followed directions, and realized they were turning out way too big. So I started over, but I didn’t shrink them enough, and had to start over yet again. Getting my money’s worth out of my yarn again. It feels good to have them finished; plus they are cotton, and the season is right.

Socks from a combination of yarns

Socks from left over yarns

This pair of socks has been demanding my attention. Last started, and probably next finished.  I finally got a yarn scale so that I could estimate how much yarn I have left over, and I have these three that go together rather well. The red to the left is back up in case I run out of the other two, but I don’t think I will.

Self patterning yarns make one want to do one more color, one more, one more…and since it is so long since I had used this ball of bright yarn, it is as if it were the first time. Plus there is the question of how it will look in combination to push me on. I plan to do the heel in the dark blue multi, then do the second sock  up to the same point, and then evaluate how much yarn is left and plan from there.

Then there is my “thinking” project for home and alone: a scarf in reversible Fair Isle center with seed stitch sides. It is made with nice alpaca yarn. Soft, soft, soft.

Scarf, side A

Side A

Scarf, side B

Side B

I think it is good that I have an infinite tolerance for unfinished projects.

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Socks finished

Just in time, I have two pair of socks finished for Mittens for Akkol

Brown socks and brown-pink multi socks

"thin" socks

They are plain, but they will be warm, and warm is necessary because where they are going has 9 months of winter and 40 below temperatures.  The brown ones are a color by request, all wool with some reinforcing nylon at toe and heel; the multicolored ones are a 75% wool 25% synthetic blend, an extra pair in case there are new grads from when we got the list.

The group, Mittens for Akkol , creates for two orphanages in Kazakhstan. At this time of year, the sixteen-year-olds “graduate”; i. e., they are considered old enough to be on their own.  The group provides hat, scarf, mittens, sweater, thick socks and thin socks for each “grad.” Thin socks (socks made from one or two strands of regular sock yarn, to be worn with shoes) did not seem to be a favorite item among the knitters, so I volunteered for two pair–not to be a martyr, but because I like to make socks and enjoy knitting for the sake of knitting.  Since I enjoy the process, it doesn’t matter much whether I am making one item or several.

Besides a cheer that they are completed in time to mail a day early, I am cheering that I finally did the Kitchener stitch correctly.  (Note to non-knitters: it creates an invisible join when done correctly.)The only time I had gotten it right was the first time in class when I learned it. Ever after, it looked like a seam. I didn’t worry too much because it is at the toe, in the shoe, but still…I took a review class and, yes, I was doing the stitches correctly. But it was still coming out a seam.

Someone in the online group pointed to this YouTube video where I finally saw my error.  Although I had the sequence correct, I wasn’t keeping the yarn to the right of the needles. So now, when I get the tension correct, it will be truly invisible.

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Scarf time

Autumn prompts me to get out unfinished scarves. First this pink one:

entrelac scarf

entrelac experiment

The bright pink yarn was left over from a Code Pink project, but seemed appropriate for a child scarf. I set it aside.  Then I found a pattern for a lace shawl (I can handle lace) that also was structured by entrelac (new to me).  I’ll post the name of the lace shawl when I get working on it.

It was clear I needed to learn, so I googled entrelac and found instructions and started. It really didn’t make sense till I had done several rows–it was just a lot of one line directions, and I had trouble keeping my place. Suddenly I saw the pattern of it all and could almost knit without directions.  Occasionally if I am attending more to talking than knitting I forget which end to attach the new knitting to and have to unknit a rectangle, but it is also an easy pattern to unknit.   All this to say if entrelac overwhelms you, keep at it.

So I had it all figured out–why waste it. Back to the scarf goal for the yarn…no reason not to make an entrelac scarf, so I did. It is actually finished now–I just forgot to take the photo with the fringe.

And the gray scarf:

gray scarf

I had heard of the knitting group at Sisters of the Road and one week headed out.  Only I left in such a hurry I forgot my knitting. So I was invited to look through donated yarns. I found this nubby lace weight yarn–unlabeled, so it is a mystery fiber, but I think it may be synthetic because it didn’t hold its blocked shape. I needed something to do while talking so opted for a stitch I’d used previously: yarn over, knit two together forever (except at the end of a row where the last stitch is knit-one).

I will certainly never purchase nubby lace yarn!  Keeping the tension loose enough for stitches to slip like they need to was a challenge.  And it is less than perfect–but I am not a perfectionist, and once worn somewhat gathered, its flaws will hide.

The scarves are in the Sisters of the Road auction; the remains of both yarns are in the knitting group stash, well were.  The pink was claimed immediately.  The gray yarn ball doesn’t look like any has been used, so there is enough for another scarf.


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Zimmerman seamless sweater–take 2

Okay, having misread the directions on sweater 1, the blue one of a couple posts ago, I am trying my new reading on this one.

Seamless sweater nearly finished

seamless sweater

I am up to where I have ten stitches on the sleeve and have to start front and back separately.

So far the “seam” looks good to me; but then it looked good on the blue one too until I got to the top, where front and back meet at the shoulder seam.

sleeve "seam"

close up of sleeve

So I’ll not be sure till I get the next 10 rows finished and the decreasing ready to meet.

Actually this is called seamless, but there is a short shoulder seam on the “set in” sleeve; I think raglan sleeves do not have any seam except the bit under the arms that doesn’t count because it doesn’t show.

I do hope I can master this because it sure beats getting various pieces knit to the same size and seamed nicely!

I plan to finish the neck with what Elizabeth Zimmerman (Knitting Workshop) calls a Norwegian neck.  If it turns out well, you will see it again.

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Retired! and reading Anthill and The Circling Song

I have really retired, and while I am doing some knitting–especially while I listen to news–I am mostly reading this week.

I am in a group that reads books and knits while we discuss the book. Well sometimes we discuss the book. And this month the book was Anthill by E O Wilson. The beginning was slow and made me wonder where it was headed; the middle was a wonderful description of , you guessed it, ant colonies and their division of labor and the progression of colonies.  The authors natural history specialty was obvious in this section, and the idea of trying to make it from the ants’ perspective really worked for me. And it fit into the novel, an amazing accomplishment.  The action picked up in the last third.

Then the historic events in Egypt and an interview on Democracy Now! with Nawal el Sadawai prompted me to reread The Circling Song. I remain fascinated by the book and am convinced there is something important just beyond what I already see.

I have done some knitting.  I got the sweater mentioned in the last post to where it is ready for a try on. I misread the instructions for the sleeve, though, so expect there may be a third knitting of that sweater.  I took out another sweater, this one for me, to practice the sleeve part on while I wait to have the blue one tried on.  I am about 15 rows into the combined body and sleeve knitting.  When it gets photogenic, I’ll add a photo.

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Process more than Product

I have been mostly knitting on a sweater that has been started twice.

blue sweater three quarters finishedThe second try was to avoid seams.  I have combined the instructions for the sweater (from The Best of Interweave Knits) with Elizabeth Zimmerman’s instructions for seamless knitting.

I am hoping it fits when finished!  I think the first thing I should have made with fit should have been for me so I could try it on frequently. But I didn’t think that far ahead. So this one waits between trips from Lafayette to Chicago for try ons.

The cold weather is right for knitting things that get big and are warm on the lap!  But the time is always right for knitting.  It is so relaxing.

In two weeks I will have retired.  Then I will have more time for quilting and knitting, and hopefully I will have more progress to report.

Some of my friends are promising to post process as well as finished product.  That fits my style–I tend to be more process oriented than product.  I guess that is why I didn’t flinch at ripping a back and a front and starting over in one piece.  Though I must admit  it is nice to have a product occasionally!

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Charity project week

I have been knitting charity socks, taking my good old time.  One pair is adult size, made the traditional way. And the other is for size 3-6 months made to practice a new method, Cat Bordhi’s New Pathways for Sock Knitters.

baby socks, 3.75 inchesI took a class on the toe up sock and am combining instructions from the class with instructions in the book.  One of the main features is the moveable gusset.In the pair pictured, it is on the top.   I am working on a second pair where the gusset is on the sole.

I am experimenting with her size charts–can make any size with any size yarn.

In addition to a chance to practice and have the sock be useful, I am  using up ends that are left over after making a pair for myself.  By making toe -up I can just stop when I run out.

The shop owner has just called the charity projects in. Someone is traveling and can deliver them.  There are several destinations: orphanages in countries where it is very cold and local Christmas collections.

In addition to socks, I worked on a quilt top for my quilt  guild.  They handed out packets of fabric that had been donated and gave size limits.  They will be finished by the women who meet during the work day and given to the women’s shelter. Tonight was the night to bring them in.  There were eleven finished. Some people got quite fancy. Mine was very ordinary.

My kit contained the four-patch blocks already assembled and the two colors of fabric.
40-x 50I guess I was lucky ; other people didn’t seem to have gotten as much fabric. It is a good thing as I’d not have had colors to coordinate with these.

Another guild has done a similar thing, so I have another packet of fabric…haven’t started on that one yet.  And I don’t know where that one will end up.  Maybe this weekend…

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Thoughts on designing

Needing summer socks, I went shopping for cotton yarn.  But seeing bamboo blends, decided to try one.  This is Babyboo Knit One Crochet Too.

It called for number 5 needles, so since I usually use two sizes smaller for socks I used 3s.  Usually I get one sock out of 50 grams, but I had to buy a third to do the last 1 1/2-2 inches of the toe.

The moral of that story is learn to do toe up. And I am signed up for a class in just that starting May 18.

Do I dare say I designed them? Seems overstated for finding a lace ribbing stitch in Barbara Walker’s Encyclopedia of stitches, and adjusting it to fit around my ankle.  When do you say designed, Vs. improvised, Vs. adapted?

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