December 08, 2007

Meet Victoria...

My first wheel
Originally uploaded by miminh3
my first spinning wheel. I say "first" because even though I have no intention of buying another one, I've heard that spinning wheels are a slippery slope, just like yarn stash and spindles ;)

I ordered this Louet Victoria S96 in Oak from Spunky Eclectic. It comes with 3 bobbins, a lazy kate, and a bag. Amy sent some free goodies (some brown wool blend and pink Blue Faced Leicester) -- you can see a close-up of the BFL spun up in my Flickr set.

I am still using the lowest ratio on the wheel but I'm planning on using the other ratios and trying my hand at plying before the end of the year. Talking about resolutions, here are some of the resolutions I wrote down at the KR retreat:
- knit 12 pairs of socks for myself
- try colorwork
- knit one sweater for myself
- knit one charity item per month
- have one handspun and handknitted item
- organize my knitting room
Let's see how I fare in the coming months!

The best gifts...

Socks from Mangokiwi!
Originally uploaded by miminh3
are from your knitting friends! Shaili (aka Mangokiwi) knitted a pair of awesome socks. They're made out of Cherry Tree Hill in this pale orange/purple mix, and the pattern is "Waving Lace" from IK Favorite Socks. This was perfect timing as snow came to Boston this week so warm handknitted socks are a must :)

Thanks Shaili!

November 27, 2007

En coup de vent

Just a quick note to say that I'll post about the Knitter's Review Retreat (lots of fun, a now-visible husband and big stash enhancement) and my trip to Paris (small stash enhancement) later this week.

Breaking news (you read it here first!) I ordered a spinning wheel and it should arrive by next week. Yipee!!

October 11, 2007

Pretty german yarns and other things

Socks in Sheepaints "Tulip"
Originally uploaded by miminh3
The yarn used in the picture is Sheepaints Bamboolaine in "Tulip". These are simple stockinette socks... but are they? no, they're not socks yet, right now they're tubes because there's no heel! I didn't know that the yarn would stripe so evenly but once I started the foot, it looked so good that I didn't want to perturb the stripes. So some surgery will occur and afterthought heels will magically appear over the weekend.

Sheepaints is one of the three German indie dyers that I stocked up on during the summer. You can buy directly from her (she also has laceweight and seacell yarn) or through Woolgirl and Sweet Sheep.

Tausendschon is the second dyer. Click on Sockenwolle > Handgefarbtes for the hand-dyed sock yarn. Four skeins including shipping from Germany only cost $60. It's a really good price, especially with the low low low US dollar.

Last, but not least, the blogosphere's famous Wollmeise. I got my yarn from the Loopy Ewe but starting this month, Claudia has her own online shop too if you're interested.

I've been knitting a lot of one-skein projects, for swatching/destashing purposes and to donate to charity organizations at the KR retreat.
- washcloths in Manos Cotton Stria. Whoa, this cotton is so soft that I take back everything I said about cotton hurting my hands. It's like knitting with little pieces of cloud!
- hats and baby socks (from Cat Bordhi's new book) in Filatura di Crosa Zarina. This yarn reminds me of Rowan 4 ply soft, but even softer. Unfortunately, it's handwash only so a little too high maintenance for my taste.
- scarf and hats in Sheep 3 Yarn. Silk and wool in beautiful colors...

I started a vest for my dad as a holiday present, it has cables and I'm knitting it with Rowan Cashsoft 4 ply. So I had to learn to cable without a cable needle. Grumperina's tutorial is perfect for that. I'll post pictures of the vest once the back is done.

September 10, 2007

Reveal time

Mangokiwi got her socks so now I can spill the beans. By the way her picture is a million times better than this one, and she is modelling the socks so go there and look!

The yarn is Sundara sock yarn in "red red over tomato". Beautiful subtle variegation and just enough twist in the yarn to have the cables and stitches well-defined... one can't have enough of this yarn -- or at least, that's what I tell Boy.

The pattern is Nicole's 9 to 5 socks. I like the heel a lot: the cable continues on the sides of the heel and the half linen stitch is much nicer than the regular slip 1, knit 1. I might have misunderstood the instructions on how to show the selvedge stitches on the outside so I'll have to look at this again at a later time. This is a great pattern if you're knitting for someone else because the socks stretch a lot so you don't need to be paranoid about the size.

I'm always happy to knit for another knitter because he/she knows how much time and effort goes into the project :)

September 05, 2007

Still spinning...

Handspun samples
Originally uploaded by miminh3
I practiced with soysilk this weekend. That stuff is very slippery so I spun from the fold. The samples are from the same roving, I just split them by color so that there would be a gradient of color.

August 27, 2007

All done!

Handspun sample
Originally uploaded by miminh3
All the knitting yarn, books, and magazines are organized -- I'll take pictures later this week. It is wonderful to have everything in one place, though the experience was sobering in terms of stash enhancement (I have close to 200 skeins).

The socks for Mangokiwi are done. As soon as she gets them, I'll show you what pattern and yarn were used ;)

I'm following the advice on the KR forums and trying to spin a little every day. Today's handspun sample is silk from Funky Carolina (it's the top right roving on the picture taken a few weeks ago).

August 18, 2007

Closet in progress

Fiber stash
Originally uploaded by miminh3
Our new house has a little cedar-lined closet that I was planning on using for yarn and fiber. How do you keep the yarn/fiber in view while protecting it from moths? Well, until IKEA produces tightly-sealed glass bookcases, I'll be using transparent plastic boxes.

This is my fiber stash and spindles (two Bosworths, one Schacht, one Golding). For now everything is organized with a little card in each box.

Next step: organize (i.e. try to contain) the yarn stash and knitting library.

August 14, 2007

Sshh, I'm undercover...

Tuscany shawl
Originally uploaded by miminh3
The Tuscany Shawl from A. Singer's "No Sheep for you" is done and ready to fly to its new owner. This would be a good pattern for a lace beginner, the only modification I made was to have increases on the right-side rows rather than the wrong-side rows. The yarn is Yarn Botanika's merino/tencel in "mangoes and raspberries". It's silky, but not slippery to knit with. In other words, it's yummy!

My August socks are for Mangokiwi. She knows that but to keep a surprise element, I won't say which pattern I'm using nor the color of the socks. OK, just one hint: I'm using Sundara sock yarn.

If you're a sock knitter, read Clara's review, and get your copy of Cat Bordhi's new book.

If you're a lace knitter, get your copy of Evelyn Clark's "Knitting Lace Triangles"

If you like knitting podcasts, listen to Stash and Burn, my favorite knitting podcast. My workday wouldn't be the same without Jenny and Nicole, This American Life and Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!.

July 30, 2007

More little friends!!

Scrap bag from Funky Carolina
Originally uploaded by miminh3
My 26 new friends arrived by mail today, in a 8 oz scrap bag from Funky Carolina . Carrie was really nice and made a scrap bag of roving for me so that I can sample different fibers and colorways before committing to a larger spinning project.

I also received Getting Started Knitting Socks by Ann Budd. This would be a great gift for a beginning sock knitter and the section on the sock anatomy is especially well written. I would recommend this over Sensational Knitted Socks. The only caveat is that she does not cover toe-up socks but it's full of great tips, it will take me a while to try them all!

Sorry Arleta, I don't have a picture of the Seasilk shawl... I blocked it the day before giving it to my coworker and totally forgot to take a picture. I'm thinking of making a pair of pyjamas out of seasilk, it's so soft and luxurious. I have another skein of Seasilk and will probably knit a shawl for myself later on.

The Ribbons Baby Blanket and Tuscany shawl are both done, ends are woven in so as soon as they're washed and blocked, I'll post pictures.

I'm off to watch Season 3 of Miss Marple on PBS. Bye!

July 08, 2007

Knitting Canadian

Blue Moon sock candy
Originally uploaded by miminh3
The Tangled up in Blue socks knitted with Blue Moon Sock candy ("Banded agate" colorway) are finished, courtesy of sitting in the back of a car for many hours on the way to Canada. I followed the pattern except that I continued the K2P2 rib on the heel flap instead of slipping stitches and I did not use the drop stitch pattern on the leg (it didn't look good with this colorway). I will probably give away this pair of socks because they're too big. It was a good learning experience though - it was my first time knitting cotton socks and my first toe-up heel-flap sock.

Even while on family vacation (aka 3 non-knitters and me) in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick I was able to stop at three yarn stores. In order to support the Canadian economy, here's what I brought back with me:
- Lucy Neatby's DVDs on sock knitting and two skeins of Celestial Merino
- patterns by Ilga Leja and Sivia Harding
- one skein each of Seawool, Woolie silk, and Cashlana all in the same "Lupin" colorway. I've wanted to sample these yarns by Fleece Artist/Handmaiden so I'll knit a shawl with all three yarns. If I can find a lupin lace pattern in Barbara Walker's treasuries, I might even design my own shawl.
- some spinning fiber (Polworth, Kid Mohair and South African fine top) from London Wul.

Did you know that effective April 1, 2007, non-residents of Canada will not be reimbursed for the HST they paid during their visit? This is a bummer considering the Canadian and American dollars are almost at par so getting the HST back was one of the incentives for shopping there.... OK, who am I kidding?! I'll buy yarn regardless!

I just learnt that one of my co-workers is moving to another department within our company in two weeks. She is really sweet and I noticed that she likes wearing scarves at work so I'm fiercely knitting a Knitted Wings Seasilk shawl for her.

June 24, 2007

I ain't dead yet!

Because of our move, I haven't had much time to knit and blog. We have some relatives visiting but after that, I will post some pictures of my WIPs:
- a baby blanket for a co-worker: it's the Ribbons Baby Blanket by Evelyn Clark, I'm making it out of three colors of Lorna's Laces shepherd sock and it's almost done.
- the Tuscany shawl from "No Sheep for You" in Yarn Botanika merino/tencel: 8 repeats down, 3 to go.
- my June socks are Tangled up in Blue made out of BMFA Sock candy.

Boy and I went to the Maine Fiber Frolic earlier this month. According to my symptoms, the spinning bug is alive and well. Consider my purchases:
- a Golding spindle
- some triple play BFL batt in "Nova Scotia" from Spunky Eclectic
- some cashmere/silk and camel/silk from Foxfire fiber
Ok, I also got some sock yarn but everyone knows that sock yarn doesn't count as stash ;)

Enjoy the warm weather!

June 02, 2007

What a day I had!

but before I tell you about yesterday, here's a picture of my finished May socks, the Quill lace socks in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock (mint stripe colorway). The lace pattern is easy to remember and I liked the eye of partridge heel flap, it looks more interesting than a slip stich heel flap.

Yesterday was a big day for me.

- Yesterday was my birthday (not one with super duper properties like a prime number but still....). Thanks Celia for the birthday wishes and same to you! (of course that's because we share a birthday)

- I got a house for my birthday. Seriously! Boy and I signed the papers for our new house (the one with the little yarn closet) yesterday and we will be moving in a couple of weeks.

Some knitting-related birthday presents:
- a knitting project pouch is coming my way, courtesy of Boy. The gals at Piddleloop are very nice and talented. I already have two of their project bags but they had one bag that matched my Honeycake needle case. It was also their last one in that fabric so that was clearly a sign.
- some Sundara yarn has been ordered, courtesy of Boy's parents.

In other news I have been bitten by the spindle bug. I will not confirm nor deny that a Maxi Bosworth spindle came back from the New Hampshire sheep and wool festival with me. Rumors that I have ordered rovings from the Woolen Rabbit are uncomfirmed at this time. I do not recall looking online about some Foxfire fiber cashmere and silk roving. That's to the best of my recollection considering I am one year older...

May 20, 2007

I've been tagged

Kim tagged me so here goes...

Each person tagged gives 7 random facts about themselves. Those tagged need to write in their blogs the 7 facts, as well as the rules of the game. You need to tag seven others and list their names on your blog. You have to leave those you plan on tagging a note in their comments so they know that they have been tagged and to read your blog.

1 - I've watched "Casablanca" at least 20 times (sometimes I mouth the words at the same time as Boggie).
2 - I studied Latin for 7 years.
3 - I've read all of Agatha Christie's novels and short stories
4 - DH and I are the same height
5 - I stalk dogs (mostly Shih-Tzus and Yorkies) but don't have one (yet).
6 - No one calls me by my real name (except my parents and their relatives)
7 - I love creme fraiche ice-cream

Does it work if I tag someone who already answered these questions? Let's say yes, shall we? So I'm tagging Rosebyany, Arleta, Lanea, Rho
(I think all four already answered), Mangokiwi, Jane and Sheri.

May 12, 2007

I like green socks, I cannot lie

Seduction socks
Originally uploaded by miminh3.
Is it me or do these socks look just like the Nautilus socks from last year? I guess I like green!

My May socks are Quill lace socks using Lorna's Laces shepherd sock in mint stripe (an exclusive color for Purl). Well, at least there will be some white in it...

April FO: Fay sweater

Fay sweater
Originally uploaded by miminh3.

May 01, 2007

I wish upon a knitting star

The knitting gods are smiling down on me.

Evidence #1: Yesterday I learnt that Kim had drawn my name in her birthday give-away and guess what? I won a skein of STR in "Smokey Topaz"!! (the *exact* colorway that I've been looking for ever since Blue Moon announced that they wouldn't take customer orders for now). Kim, thank you very much for this contest and Happy Birthday!

Evidence #2: This year's Knitter's Review retreat will take place in Lenox, MA (two hours from Boston) on the *very first* fall weekend that I won't have to spend studying. How serendipitous!

I finished three projects during April (pictures to be posted later). Full disclosure: I am not a fast knitter... two of those projects have been sitting in my knitting basket since last summer!

The seams are done, the buttons are sewn in, and all ends are woven in on both Kim Hargreaves' Fay sweater and Kim Hargreaves' Buttercup shrug. My conclusions are:
- Two thumbs up for Rowan 4-ply soft, not so much for Rowan 4-ply cotton.
- Small gauge is good for me, both as the knitter and as the recipient of the knitted item
- As long as I remember to have selvedge stitches, seaming is not bad at all
- I hate the picot cast-on and picot bind-off.

My April socks were Ann Budd's Seduction socks knit in Blue Moon Fiber Arts "Seduction" yarn. This is a 50% merino/50% tencel blend - the tencel gave a nice sheen similar to that of silk (wonderful on the hands) and the rib pattern was great to counter the lack of elasticity. However 400 yards/4 oz of BMFA Seduction costs $34 (ouch!). I was lucky enough to grab one skein marked 30% off when I visited Seattle's LYS Tricoter but if you're looking for a substitute, I recommend Yarn Botanika's merino/tencel which comes in both fingering and DK weights. That's what my next project (Tuscany shawl) will be made out of...

March 31, 2007

Mini me

Baby socks and washcloths
Originally uploaded by miminh3.
Here are my March socks: the Ruffle rib socks by Ann Budd (free pattern from Interweave: "Better than Booties Baby Socks")

Obviously they're not for me but for Celia's baby Alex. I knitted them out of Rowan 4-ply soft so they're machine washable. In the process I learned Priscilla Gibson-Roberts's short-row heel that I am sure of using again.

The two washcloths are made out of Classic Elite Provence that I got through a swap. I'm not a fan of mercerized cotton such as Tahki Cotton Classic but a quick knit is OK on my hands. I did buy "No Sheep for you" so I'm learning about the advantages of cotton (but thanks for the offer though, Mango kiwi!)

March 28, 2007

The well-accessorized knitter

Misocrafty pouch
Originally uploaded by miminh3.
Here are my latest acquisitions:
- a misocrafty pouch, because I want to store my sock knitting neatly in my work bag
- an Addi needle sizer, because we all know that Addi needles are not US sizes 1 and 2.
- some T-pins, because I realized when blocking the sweater pieces last week that I have no where near enough T-pins to block large pieces of knitting properly.

In other news, my knitting book diet is about to suffer considerable blows unless I devise a long-term strategy.
- Immediate threats #1 and 2: "No Sheep for you" by Amy Singer and the Yarn harlot's new book
- Threat #3: Clara's book.
- Threats #4 and beyond: Interweave fall 07 books

The title and cover of Amy Singer's book did not entice me at first but the reviews and patterns made me change my mind. I'd like to have this book to guide me through my warm weather knitting. I think it will be a good counterpart to Barbara Albright's wonderful book, The Natural Knitter.

March 18, 2007

Me, procrastinate? Never!

Kim Hargreaves sweater
Originally uploaded by miminh3.
A year ago I finished knitting the front, back, and sleeves of Kim Hargreaves' Fay sweater. The pieces were then neatly put away and not seen again until yesterday.

I will seam this sweater and wear it this spring.
Seaming is not a matter of life and death.
Seams can be undone.
(take a deep breath)

The pieces have been blocked (the second sleeve is missing from the picture). Note my weird and lazy blocking technique: to ensure that the front and back are the same, I block them on top of one another.

Here's my plan:
1 - seam shoulders
2 - knit neck band -- this is the only time where I will deviate from the pattern and pick up stitches for the neck instead of knitting the edging and then seaming it into place. Did I mention how much I dislike seaming?
3 - baste, curse, and seam set-in sleeves
4 - seam body sides
5 - seam sleeves
After all this, the sweater is supposed to look like this. Wish me luck!

March 13, 2007

Meet my little friends

Sock stash
Originally uploaded by miminh3.
Actually, there are a few more but they don't fit on the coffee table!

Mostly one-person ventures (Sundara, Yarn pirate, Sunshine yarns, Sweetgeorgia, Vesper) but also some bigger dyers (STR, Koigu, Lorna's Laces).

As you can see, my heart is fickle: I first fell in love with variegated yarns, now I am enamored with almost solid yarns.

March 12, 2007

I need some knitting juju!

- Pink ribbon socks? I turned the heel on the first sock (those were supposed to be my February socks, ssshhh....)

- Endpaper mitts? the first mitt was frogged.
I'll start again with the Phildar lambswool to make mittens instead of fingerless mitts. Only the back will use the fairisle motif, one mitten will be pink on purple background, the other will be purple on pink background.

- Essential stripe sweater? about 2/3 down the body I decided to frog (with emotional support from the KR forums).
Lesson 1: Worsted weight sweaters are not flattering on me.
Lesson 2: Asian people must stay away from yellow/pumpkin/pale orange unless they want to look like one big citrus fruit.

- Beret from Louisa Harding's Hats Gloves Scarves? I actually knitted that in two evenings using 1 skein of Rowan Felted Tweed. However it appears that being born and raised in France does not ensure that you look good with a beret.

I'm off to knit a swatch in cashmere. Cashmere makes everything better :)

February 27, 2007

Moebius scarf

Moebius scarf
Originally uploaded by miminh3.
There's been little going on knittingwise this past week but I have a great excuse. Boy and I have found a nice little house that we want to buy so of course, this entails lots of paperwork, phone calls and moments of doubts.

If everything goes well, I will have a yarn closet starting June. Yes, you read that correctly: a yarn CLOSET. One of the bedrooms has a nook with a cedar closet on one side and enough space for a bookcase on the other (perfect for knitting books and magazines). I'm thinking of hanging skeins from the rod and organizing the center-pull balls below in the cedar closet. I have seen some yarn stores hanging skeins of yarn and as long as everything is on hooks, there should be no tangled mess -- or at least I hope so.

So no new knitting but I had forgotten to post a picture of the Moebius scarf finished a few weeks ago. I started it at the KR retreat during Cat Bordhi's class - it is made out of Handmaiden Lady Godiva, a luxurious merino/silk blend. Cat is a wonderful teacher and you should trust her and her books: the Moebius cast-on is not difficult at all. Actually, I find it easier than a cable or knitted cast on!

A few notes about Moebius knitting:
- The first knitted round will be somewhat painful because you have to push stitches on the cord. I consider it payback for the easy cast on.
- It might be hard to tell how wide your knitting is because the cord stretches it.
- The bind off has to be loose. Cat advised binding off with doubled yarn or instead of the usual bind off (K2, slip first stitch over second stitch), you increase by one stitch for every two original stitches (K2, slip first stitch over, M1, slip first stitch over).

February 15, 2007

Tale of two diets

Tapestry scarf
Originally uploaded by miminh3.

I did not mean to worry auntie Vi so let me tell you about my two very reasonable diets.

- The food diet is about being healthy: at least one meal a day is a salad, no sodas, and I eat fruit when I want a snack.

- The yarn diet is about enjoying what I have: at least 20 skeins of my stash (currently 135 skeins) must be used before my next purchase and I can buy at most one knitting/pattern book per month.

2 skeins are gone thanks to the Gentle Waters scarf made with Rowan Tapestry. I like to buy a few skeins to swatch a new yarn, I can always use them for a charity scarf or hat (this one will go to Dulaan).

Tapestry is a single-ply DK weight yarn made out of 70% wool and 30% soybean. It is similar to South West Trading Karaoke (also single-ply 50% wool 50% soysilk but worsted). Both are good substitutes for Noro Kureyon - I like the gentler color variegation and find them softer (though not for next-to-skin wear because of my sensitive skin).

Edited: to answer Amie's question, the colorway is variegated pink and gray - it's shade 172 "pot pourri".

February 04, 2007

We have no bananas today

Or rather, we have no knitting to show today (but we have plenty of bananas as I am supposedly on a diet and I've heard from very reliable sources that bananas are the way to go).

Instead, here's a picture of my new case for circular needles by Honeycake designs purchased through One Planet yarn and fiber. I love purple and Jenn's handmade case is perfect for my Addi needles. Too bad I don't use crochet hooks or straight needles, otherwise I would have ordered the matching cases. It doesn't look like she's sewing knitting handbags but I might inquire. The traditional 2nd anniversary present is "cotton" - maybe I can convince Boy that a custom-made knitting bag would be perfect.

I have started my February socks (Sunshine yarns in "The Cure" using the "Pink Ribbons" pattern by Lisa Lloyd). They will either go to my aunt who had breast cancer or to some hospital.

I also bought three skeins of STR in Nodding Violet (if auntie vi is very nice, I might send it her way), Midsummer's night, and Stormy Weather. "Stormy weather" is for a pair of socks for Boy. There's nothing that I can knit for him that he will actually wear - work is business dress only so even knitted ties would be off limits, he has too many sweaters for the weekend, and he refuses to wear scarves/hats/gloves (I think it's a "I'm a man, I can endure the cold" thing). So socks are the only thing I can knit for him but they have to be boring.

If you are looking for things to knit for men, David Reidy had a great show on that topic. Sticks and String is starting its second season, it's one of my favorite podcasts!

January 28, 2007

J'ai un "rhube"

Hydrangea socks
Originally uploaded by miminh3.

I've had a gigantic cold with headache for the past week. I had to take a Monday off work -- DH knows I'm sick when I am cooped up at home for three days and don't knit! I came back to knitting slowly by knitting hats for the Ships project and Dulaan but finished my January socks.

Pattern: Hydrangea socks
Yarn: Sundara sock yarn in "Blueberry smoothie"
Modifications: I stopped the spiral pattern after the gusset decreases

I've got to choose the yarn for my February socks. Something cheerful so I think either Sunshine yarns or Lorna's Laces.

In a last-ditch effort to pretend that I have a New Year's resolution, I spent an evening filling out my stash Excel spreadsheet with missing information (yardage, gauge) and matched up almost all my sock yarn/fingering weight/lace weight to appropriate patterns.

I have enough to knit 36 pairs of socks and 16 shawls. I'd better get cracking.

January 10, 2007

As I lay dyeing

I have good news and bad news.

The good news is that the Diamond Fantasy Scarf is blocking. This was my KR New Beginnings project: the pattern by Sivia Harding was easy to follow (instructions were in written and chart form) and the scarf was the perfect size so that I would not get impatient with the increasingly long rows.

The bad news is that the sheet I used for blocking now has lovely orange spots. I rinsed the scarf with some Soak ("Celebration" scent, a close second to my favorite "Aquae") but must not have soaked it long enough...
Edited to add: false alarm. Once the shawl and sheet were dry, it became apparent that the orange spots were figments of my imagination, the dye did not run and all is fine and well.

Here's a closeup of the diamond repeat. I love this "sangria" colorway by Handmaiden: orange, red, and purple.

My January socks are "Hydrangea" socks. The pattern is from Sundara's Petals Collection but I did not belong to the sock club back then so I am using another colorway of Sundara sock yarn, a lovely variegation of purple called "Blueberry smoothie".

January 01, 2007

Goodbye to 2006, hello to 2007

Yarn Pirate socks "clementine"
Originally uploaded by miminh3.
My last two finished objects in 2006 were Sivia Harding's Diamond fantasy shawl (I need to block it so pictures will be up sometime next week) and these December socks made out of Yarn Pirate clementine merino yarn. This yarn was a little thinner than Koigu KPPPM and tightly spun, it was wonderful to knit with. I can picture a beautiful shawl with some of the almost-solid yarn that Georgia dyes.

I knitted them toe-up with a Turkish cast-on (see here for a very good tutorial) and an afterthought heel (using Lucy Neatby's book "Cool socks, warm feet"). No need for waste yarn or a crochet chain for the toe, you just knit a cylinder and place some waste yarn where the heel will be.

Knitting an afterthought heel is just like knitting a toe: a few decrease rounds and you get to try the sock on to make sure the heel is deep enough and fits snuggly. It works especially well with self-striping yarn since you get a bulls eye pattern for the heel and even stripes for the leg and foot. You just have to be careful not to get holes (as usual!).

My first project of 2007 is a fair isle project since that was one of my knitting resolutions after the KR retreat. Eunny Jang pitched her Endpaper mitts as the perfect first fair isle project and she's right! The pattern is very clear and I am enjoying color knitting a lot more than I expected... I keep the white yarn with my left hand (scooping it as in Continental knitting) and the blue with my right hand (throwing it as in English knitting), it took a bit to practice but this should pay off in the long term.

To fair isle experts (that's you, vi!!), here's my question: am I supposed to hold the background color in the left or right hand for the pattern to stand out?

Just give me the yarn and no one will get hurt!

Phildar stash
Originally uploaded by miminh3.
If you were to ask for a ransom in yarn, don't you think it would look like this? (DH received the briefcase as a Christmas present so I packed it with yarn for the trip back to the US) Anyway, here's what I got while in France.

My first stop in Paris was at a Phildar boutique. Phildar tends to have more acrylic in their wool blends that I care for -- however I chose the light and dark grey yarn for a sweater since it is 100% pure wool. The other two skeins are for a fair isle hat (more on me and fair isle in the next post) and consist of 51% lambswool/49% acrylic. The lambswool is amazingly soft so if I like knitting with it, I will order some more online or buy it during my next trip.

The second stop was at the Bon Marche. I did not buy anything but admired the kits made by Tiboodoo using Bouton d'or/Anny Blatt yarn. The cardigans are so cute, I wish they made kits for grown-ups.

The planned third stop was a Bergere de France boutique that was unfortunately closed for the holiday season. Bergere de France is mostly a mail-order company and they have tons of free patterns on their website. (If you have some trouble translating one of them, drop me a line and I might be able to help) I have to buy their new CD-Rom: it has over 200 patterns and one can print out magnified charts. Isn't that cool?

The fourth stop was La Droguerie. This was the most beautiful shop I've been to since Purl in Soho. I fell in love with their pure alpaca (6.40 euros per 50 grams) and bought 400 grams of it -- some in variegated rust for a shawl, some in shades of blue and gray for a fair isle scarf.