Sunday, October 19, 2008

Halloween hat

My favorite thing to do with leftover bits of yarn is a top-down baby hat:
CO 3 sts, work three or four rows of I-cord, inc every st, and then increase on the sixes every other round ([knit x stitches, increase] 6 times) This is especially easy if you're working with 4 dpns, because it's so easy to keep track of the incs--once in the middle and once on the end of each needle.
It's easy to weave in ends as you go, make patterns, etc, but, because I'm doing it to avoid having to make a gauge swatch, it almost always turns out an inch or so loose. Now this one, I ran out of white, put on black trim, duplicate-stitched a cat pattern from Knitting Over the Edge, and then decided it really was a little too wide and short. Solution? Crocheted ear-flaps.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Some loose ends

Going through the Ottoman, otherwise known as my knitting project storage area, I came across the dreaded Easter egg sweater, and tried it on Marly. Success! But the real reason I went in there was to put an end once and for all to the torturous bathmat project. Turns out I couldn't bring myself to unravel it, so I just bound it off, and now we have a lion's mane/green wig/boa for dress-up.

Another old project I dragged out was the bonnet to go with this lovely christening gown made by a friend of my mom's. Somehow the matching bonnet was lost after Conway's baptism, so when Washington was baptized four years ago, I managed to crochet some approximation. The stitches at the front of the head match, but the back of the head is a little bit fudged, with the original stitches taken in. I'm set to give bonnets another try very soon, though, because I want to make Marly the kind of ruffled headwarmer that all our French friends use for their babies. I've searched around for a pattern but have not yet been satisfied. I may end up trying to fabricate one, and we'll see how that goes.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Thanks, Hoolooboo

I had no idea how much I needed this until it showed up in my inbox. Last summer, I signed up for the mystery stole, but only got as far as clue no. 2. I had big lace knitting aspirations, but I never ordered the beads, and I was also just finding out for myself how lace and variegated yarns don't actually like eah other that mcuh, but I stayed in the Pink Lemon Yahoo Group, and am so glad I did.

Though I got some good knitting time during my abbreviated hospital stay, sporadic doesn't begin to describe my knitting opportunities since no. 3 has arrived, so I was a bit surprised to find I had finished the first of the green socks I'm making Ian. They're from the Vintage Socks book, but I totally modified the pattern for a gauge of 7 st/in instead of 8, and since I've been working on them on and off for a month, I've just about forgotten all the details of the leg and even the heel. This afternoon I diverted myself by counting stitches and making notes, so now, thanks to the genius and generosity of Melanie, there's a chance sock 2 will match sock 1.

Monday, April 28, 2008


Remember the Eater Egg sweater? I used some more unravelings from the original messed-up fair isle to crochet a little brimmed hat, modeled here by my lovely five-day-old daughter, Maria Louise McGrath. Though the pregnancy went fairly smoothly, and the delivery amazingly so, I have been a little preoccupied. Maria Louise was born (officially) 4 days early, though we were expecting her any time after the tenth or so. We just kept having time to check things off, like going to see Candide at Lincoln Center (April 12), seeing friends, giving a presentation on Germany for Coco's class, then going to the German feast. But the real tie-up-loose-ends day was Tuesday, when we mailed off the two gifts shown below, plus a Get Well card for Great Grandma and a Happy 70th Birthday card to my mom, then went to the Food Coop to do our shopping for the week. At supper that night (the second day of Spring Break from school, when I asked the kids what we should do the next day--zoo, botanic garden, library--Coco piped up extremely insistently "HAVE THE BABY!" Turns out she knew what she was talking about.

EZ baby sweater for Lily in Alabama

Ann Norling fruit hat for Georgia in Texas

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Back in Control

Originally, I was composing a post in my head about how I was so busy knitting I was ignoring (somewhat) important things like counting and keeping track of rows, but my actions last night and today have left me much more composed. Exhibit A: Ian's cardigan. The sleeve is largely back on track and going well, though I was struggling with the short circular needle. It turns out 12 inches or less for a cable is hard for me, especially when it come to P2tog. Anyway, having picked up plenty of stitches at the armhole and waited at least 20 rows before starting the decrease, the plan was to decrease every five rows. Unfortunately for me, I wasn't holding my train of thought for five rows, and, though I can usually identify a decrease in plain stockinette, I have a little trouble with seed stitch. Solution: I switched to five circular needle, much more comfortable anyway, and, the silver one is the decrease one, that is, when it gets to the start of the row, it's time to decrease, then it works its way around, coming back every fifth row.

Fast project B: Coco's Easter sweater. I'm very loosely adapting a pattern from The Complete Knitter's Guide, with a totally different gauge, but the same basic shape and ruffled bottom (not fun). I did swatch, to figure out which lace I liked, but after thinking about starting top-down, I decide to go bottom up and work straight until the armholes. I must have cap sleeves, because I think drop-shoulder would be sloppy, but I haven't done any calculations yet. What I have done, which makes me feel much better, is write down in my notebook all I've done so far, along with some of Coco's measurements, and plotted the neckline. So I can work for a while longer before I have to do any more math.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Can't . . . Stop . . . Knitting

Though you wouldn't know it from checking here, the past month has been extremely productive. One sock for me, two pairs of baby booties, including:

a baby hat plus a hat intended for a baby that I put on hold when I realized the circumference was 18.5", which is generous for an average adult. Of course, I started from the top down and had no measuring tape along, but it will either go to Washington or to Afghans for Afghans. In the meantime, baby William should have a warm head thanks to this:

My crowning achievement, though, was having a Valentines Day surprise for Ian, and having it be a good surprise. Ever since I made Ian a sweater with Wool-Ease Thick and Quick on size 13 needles on the sly, my daughter has been a little obsessed with the element of surprise. Now, Ian knows I'm making him the Aran cardigan from Opinionated Knitter. We picked the yarn together, he's tried it on at various stages, I've worked (and not worked) on it in front of him. He and I also know that he needs it for summer, when the office air conditioner is turned down to ridiculously low temperatures, so it's not my top knitting priority. On the other hand, finishing the body and preparing the steeks, lent it a certain air of excitement and urgency, so all of a sudden the kids and I thought maybe it could be finished as a surprise for Valentines Day. Now, Elizabeth Zimmerman's instructions are to make the sleeves from the cuff up, in the round, then sew them into the cut armhole steeks. I figured, Why bother, when I can pick up the stitches around the armhole steek and knit the sleeves down--less sewing! Unfortunately, when I read about picking up stitches for the neck and button band, I only registered on the 2 sts every 3 rows rule, not the fact that the button band is garter stitch, so, when I picked up for the armholes, I used the same 2:3 ratio instead of the usual 3:4 ratio on should use when picking up along the side. Well, the button band looked fantastic, and sleeve 1 was going pretty quickly, and I kept trying the sweater on, but Ian was out of the loop. We are pretty much the same size, except, being male, and in pretty good shape, his arms are a little more muscular and hence bulkier. Roughly two weeks before Valentine's, though, I lost my nerve, thinking what heartbreak would ensue if I gave him a finished sweater with binding arms. I had him try the thing on, and, of course, the arms were a bit too tight (because of the ratio).

The project was abandoned again until Washington could find time to unravel the whole sleeve, and Ian was assured of no surprise knitting gift . . . or so he thought. Very surreptitiously, hiding behind pillows and in bedside drawers, lurked a pair of black socks, his first ever handmade.

I hope you all had wonderful Valentines Days too.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Baking break

I'm actually getting a surprising amount of knitting done in the new year, and will steek Ian's cardigan very soon, but I've also been spending a lot of time in the kitchen lately. My big girl's seventh birthday was Friday the 4th, and since her teacher is a World Wildlife Fund devotee, we decided to make an endangered animal cake.

I've been moving away from boxed and packaged anything, but up until now I've baked her cakes from a box so that I could spend more time decorating. This year, I made the devil's food cake and buttercream icing from scratch, and was pretty pleased with how they turned out.
After the birthday weekend passed (capped on Sunday with a matinee of Princess Ida by NYGASP, which was fantastic), I finally took the plunge with the Tassajara Bread Book that I've been perusing since early December. On Monday I made white bread (since that was the flour on hand). The book has some really wonderful illustrations and is very reassuring for novice breadmakers. Combine that with its philosophical bent, and it's the closest thing I've seen to a knitting book about making bread.

Then, Friday, while thunderstorms raged outside, I made the whole wheat version.

Compared to storebought:

Not too shabby.
This morning I made their whole wheat pancakes, which were nice, and I may just make some coffee cake tomorrow, or the fancy apple popover.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Twelfth Day of Christmas

Well, tomorrow we'll take the decorations down from our tree and get it out of the house and onto the curbside (I'm anticipating a lot of lamentation, especially from our three-year-old, who's already tried several times to resurrect the dead front-door wreath, i.e., pull it out of its plastic bag and put it back up), so I'm guessing this is the last possible day I can post photos of the Christmas stocking I made for Coco this year. As you can see, she loves it,

and it does have a certain quirky charm, but I've made myself a promise that I won't buy Red Heart Super-Saver 100% acrylic ever again, not even for a craft project that no one will wear, and no matter how much of it I can get for a ridiculously low price. It's finally sunk in that I should respect my craft enough to use quality (though not necessarily expensive) yarn, and that the more natural fibers, the nicer it feels. Anyway, this was my first experiment with the Magic Loop method, after hearing Kelly Petkun gushing about it on the Knitpicks podcast, and I'm somewhat of a convert,

(just finished this left-hand covering, which is a stop-gap until I make gloves I like, and which my friend Linda called "the devil's own glove") though not absolutely, totally convinced, and definitely not for two socks at once, unless I could figure a way to incorporate double-knitting also.
But, back to the stocking, which is a pretty good match for Washington's, except much hairier, since she's such a fun-fur fan, and with hearts and roses instead of a stag. Not too bad.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Newsboy cap

It's amazing how fast size 10 1/2 needles can get a job done. Not only was I able to make a sort-of knockoff of Sugar on snow ( I didn't remember the cables, so it was just a basic rib, with the I-cord tie, probably will do best as a neckwarmer) with one ball of Wool of the Andes bulky, but in just about no time I did this cabled newsboy cap from Stitch 'n' Bitch Nation. I decided that instead of just giving Coco's schoolteacher a present, I really owed some presents to her ballet teachers, who are amazingly patient and potential role models, since Coco still sincerely believes her future career is as a dancer. Her current teacher has said some charming things about Coco's silliness being a vital aspect of her personality and not disruptive to the class, and since she is hip and young the kids and I decided she might like this.

Her former teacher, who runs the studio, has known Coco since she was two and cried the first day she came to the studio in a school uniform. She also took time out of the backstage organization of last year's huge recital to help me when I left all six of our tickets at home (several subway stops away). Anyway, her favorite color is blue, and though I didn't get them done in time for the holidays, I will be able to give them to her when Coco goes back to dance tomorrow.