December 15, 2009

Mischief managed!

Right twist cable socks
Originally uploaded by miminh3
My only holiday knitting project was finished with plenty of time to spare! The pattern, "Right twist cable socks" by Ann Budd in Getting started knitting socks, was easy to follow and the yarn had great stitch definition as well as a high "squeeze factor". I am definitely starting a love affair with the yarns dyed by Tanis. First there were these socks. The Fiddlehead mittens kit is currently on the needles and I've already received the matching Dipped Infinity Scarf kit.

I've received the advice of spinning a little every day to reinforce my muscle memory, so I've been spinning more often. I spun this Corriedale top dyed by Spunky Eclectic (in the "orchard" colorway) using a short forward draw and then plied it - all in one evening. The yarn is not as balanced as I would have liked but the colors should be nice for a child hat. I am signed up for a handspinning class with Barb Parry at Webs in February so I am very excited!

Boy and I will be off to Hawaii (or more precisely Maui, Kauai and Hawaii) over Christmas and New Year's. I might be able to visit a yarn store or two while we're there...

November 29, 2009

The loot of the century

Originally uploaded by miminh3
Since we (Wendy, Luann, and I) had filled the car on the way to the retreat with our contributions to the Stash Lounge, any non-knitter would assume that space would not be an issue on the way back. This assumption is unfortunately flawed: yarn, like gas, fills all the space available to it.

We visited the Stash Lounge and shopped at the marketplace. We brought back yarn and fiber donated by Martha to raise money for KR (little plug here: please go to the KR forums and see if anything strikes your fancy). As Luann said, I definitely tried to break several laws of physics to make my acquisitions fit in my luggage. Among them were:

- from the goodie bag: a skein of Sundara worsted merino in "crushed cherries" destined to become either a Koolhaas hat or Thanksgiving Day Mitts
- from the Stash Lounge: a trio of Shibui yarns in "wasabi" left by Clara that I hope to use in a textured shawl, as I did a couple of years ago with various Mountain Colors yarns
- from my Winter share and the marketplace: Foxfire Fiber cormo alpaca lace in two different colors for an Ishbel and a Swallowtail shawl
- enough String Theory caper sock in "viola" to make a sweater or a vest
- Spirit Trail's new yarn "Sunna" for a pair of socks and some "Frija" for a pair of Hedgerow mitts for myself

I set aside my new goodies as I am working on a Christmas present. When my in-laws were visiting us this fall, I lent my mother-in-law a pair of socks I had knitted out of STR lightweight. She liked them so much that I offered to knit her a pair of socks for Christmas. She wanted a soft variegated green so I found a skein of fingering weight yarn from Tanis Fiber Arts in "spearmint" in my stash.

The pattern is "Right Twist Cable Rib socks" by Ann Budd. When trying to lure non-knitters to the dark side of handknitted socks, I think it's better to start with a simple non-lacy pattern. This gets them hooked on the warmth and softness. After that, you can sell them on the color-coordinating possibilities and the coolness of the designs. If all fails, I can always buy the pin that Kathleen was wearing at the retreat "yes, I know that I can buy socks for $2 at Walmart".

Once I am done with these socks and the Fiddlehead mittens, I would like a matching Tanis kit for the Dipped Infinity Scarf by Laura Chau. I also want to tackle La Droguerie's latest hit, le Carre Magique Dentelle (in purple, of course!).

November 27, 2009

KR retreat - part 3

"Wedding" ceremony
Originally uploaded by miminh3
During Sunday breakfast, I tried to take pictures of all the tables (wedding style) so that I would be better at remembering names and faces. I wish we could mouse over the pictures to see the name of the knitter and the pattern/yarn used in the garment he/she is wearing... Next time perhaps!

That morning I was lucky enough to win an antique darning egg as a door prize (it is rather heavy so I'll have to figure out how to use it without damaging it nor the sock). And I got the courage to ask Ann Budd to sign my copy of "Getting Started Knitting Socks". She's such a fun down-to-earth person! I hope that she will join the retreat again next year, perhaps as a teacher.

(I tried to explain to Boy how much Ann has contributed to the knitting community with her books and while working for Interweave. I said "imagine the KR retreat is like a violin master class with Gil Shaham and Anne-Sophie Mutter. Having Ann Budd there is like Itzhak Perlman coming at the last minute". I think he got the picture.)

I chose the Fiddlehead mittens by Adrian Bazilia (kit by Tanis Fiber Arts) as my New Beginnings project. We all cast on (OK, maybe not everyone since some people were "protesting" and some people had already cast on) while Clara presided over a very special wedding ceremony between us and our projects. Let's see how that relationship blossoms over the upcoming year!

The Spirit Trail tailgate sale morphed this year into a full-fledged marketplace as we were able to buy from the vendors who had not yet packed up (is there anything as heartbreaking as the thought of the yarn you let go?). I hugged everyone one last time and promised Mary and Louise that I would do the dance of the seven veils next year (if sufficiently liquored up and in exchange for a bird house).

I remember how (unnecessarily) scared and shy I was at my first retreat. As each year passes by, I become more outgoing and get to learn more from the knitters around me. This is the weekend where I fill up with the good vibes from my knitting friends and they keep me knitting throughout the year!

KR retreat - part 2

Almost all the retreat participants had arrived by Friday dinner and we had our usual "Show and tell" after dinner. Clara asked us to describe our philosophy of knitting and where we were at with our knitting. We heard the themes of knitting for community, having too many projects at once, wishing we had more time to knit,... all of which I can sympathize with!

On Saturday morning, we gathered outside to take our group picture and an additional special picture for Fran. We then proceeded to our classes, mine was Melissa Morgan-Oakes' class on finishing techniques. I really liked her sock class last year and since I have issues with finishing (let us not speak of the sweater that only needs to be seamed and has been languishing in a basket for the last year), this was the right choice! Our homework had us knitting nine swatches in various stitch patterns and we worked through the different seaming possibilities during the class (horizontal stockinette, vertical stockinette, ribbing, seed stitch). I just have a few more seams and I'll have a snazzy pillow cover!

I was (of course) first in line for the afternoon marketplace: don't let my small stature fool you, I can be pretty feisty if you come between me and the yarn I love! (I will post about my loot in another post). One of the highlights of the marketplace was Clara signing copies of "The Knitter's Book of Wool" (while we petted the sample garments from the book). I was a little star-struck when asking Melanie Falick (former IK editor, author and designer extraordinaire, the force behing STC craft books) to sign my copy of "Weekend Knitting". Melanie also had the swatches from Lynne Barr's new book, "Reversible Knitting", for us to look at (the techniques in "Knitting new scarves" had already bowled me over, wait til you read her new book).

Storey Publishing was kind enough to open its doors to us for a few hours so I was able to buy various knitting ("101 Designer one-skein wonders") and sewing ("101 One Yard wonders") books at wholesale price. I also bought a birding book for Boy so that he wouldn't feel left out.

After our traditional Thanksgiving dinner, we reconvened for Melanie's presentation. I dutifully took notes as she explained how she got into knitting, her path from writer to editor, and how the books at STC Craft come to life. We even had a preview of the 2010 books (seen here - I am looking forward to Veronik Avery's "Knitting 24/7").

After the presentation, Luann happened to be at the right time at the right place (aka in front of the locked Stash Lounge as Karen of String Theory was dropping off her destash). Somehow Sara, Vicki, Luann, and I found ourselves huddled in the dark corridor using Luann's little flashlight to identify the various balls of yarn ("is this Rowan Felted tweed?" "No, I think it's Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool." "This is so soft, it has to be Malabrigo lace!"). Vicki even took what I thought were "blackmail" pictures, which would make a lot of sense had she not been guilty of taking some of Karen's yarn like the rest of us!

For next year I propose a "Yarn Off" (TM): 10 unlabelled balls of yarn which need to be identified.

KR retreat - part 1

Stash lounge
Originally uploaded by miminh3
A week has passed since we left Williamstown but I'm still high from the wonderful (extended) weekend I spent in the company of my fellow knitters.

The excitement about the retreat started long before Thursday afternoon, as Wendy, Luann, and I were emailing back and forth about our carpool. Luann had warned us that her destash would be of gigantic proportions and indeed, I think it was probably only second to Rosi's destash. In any case, we were able to make everything fit in Wendy's Camry though we could have spared ourselves some of the trouble (at the end of the weekend, we realized that the three of us just took from each other's destash in a very nice cyclic permutation).

Being part of the Thursday extension not only allows you to take one extra class but also to relax and fully enjoy the atmosphere. There's nothing quite like arriving at the retreat, being welcomed by Martha and Kendra with our generous goodie bags (more on that later), and being hugged by fellow knitters whether you have met them in previous years or only online. You let go of anything that your mind is preoccupied with (work, family,...) and just happily chat and knit away. You giggle as you go one more time to the stash lounge ("I'm walking there purely to get some exercise"), pet other people's garments and ask them what yarn and pattern they used.

On Friday morning, I took Shelia's beginning/intermediate spinning class. It was a lot of fun to see people have a "aha moment" when doing park and draft with their spindles. Shelia lent us square spindles from Spindlewood Co. (which I had never tried before, they're beautiful and perfectly balanced) and gave us different fibers to use including roving from her own Shetland/Gotland sheep Ingamar (who now has many fans -- let's hope it won't go to his head). I reacquainted myself with my wheel and Shelia showed me how to spin long-draw. I hope to practice often enough that I'll be able to spin both short forward draw and long-draw.

On Friday afternoon, Eva and I were lucky enough to help Jen of Spirit Trail set up her booth for Saturday's marketplace (what passes as an act of altruism is really a self-serving way to fondle the yarns and "pre-shop"). Chris (Roosien, not to be confused with "the other Kris") and Anne Hanson of Knitspot made a homey Briar Rose corner by the fireplace, Kathryn Alexander showcased her colorful bundles of yarn, her books, and her sock pattern in "The Joy of Sox", Jane was setting up the book signing tables for Clara and Melanie Falick while Barb and Holly took care of the Foxfire booth (including the luscious new Cormo Alpaca that was part of my Winter Sheep Share).

November 15, 2009

Lost in translation

Back in February, I heard Jenny and Nicole's podcast on Japanese knitting patterns and was quite intrigued. Clara has reviewed Japanese stitch dictionaries in Interweave Knits. Knitters post on KR about beautiful lace patterns or aran sweaters they have seen in Japanese books. Several of the French blogs I read regularly use Japanese sewing patterns. Judy Sumner mentions in her book, Knitted Socks East and West, some never-seen before stitches. Here was this wealth of resources that I had not yet looked into, I had to remedy to it! So I'm signed up for a class entitled "Explore Japanese Knitting from Charts" with Donna Druchunas next May, during our Alaska cruise.

But before then, there are plenty of things for me to explore. Because Japanese patterns only give one size, the easiest thing is to start with accessories: there's just one size and gauge doesn't matter as much as for sweaters. So I am building a library!

While visiting String Theory this summer, I picked up a copy of Aran Knit. As I was already ordering yarn from Julija's shop, I had to order this book of socks. De Afstap in Amsterdam had a copy of the very handy Clear and Simple knitting symbols.

On the fence

Fence row socks
Originally uploaded by miminh3
While in Europe, I knitted nine swatches (my homework for the KR retreat) and finished a pair of socks, the Fence row socks. The pattern is by Lisa Lloyd and the yarn is Fox Sox from Foxfire Fiber designs in "Willow".

The 4 round repeat is easy to remember and I am looking forward to knitting more patterns from Lisa Lloyd, especially the ones from "A Fine Fleece". Unfortunately, I haven't seen her patterns in Wildfibers magazine lately but I hope she will be back with more patterns.

I believe that Barb Parry is no longer dyeing the Fox Sox yarn, as she is focusing on her Farm Yarn collection from her own flock. The textured stitch of the socks showcases the yarn color beautifully as the little purl bumps reflect the subtle color changes. Taking a dyeing class with Barb is on my wishlist for 2010!

I had plenty of Fox Sox yarn leftover so I was able to knit a charity hat to bring to the retreat. That's four hats so far so I'm hoping to knit a few more between now and the end of the retreat.

November 13, 2009

"Purple is a fruit" (Homer Simpson)

Waves in the square shawl
Originally uploaded by miminh3
I was going to post about this project earlier this week but my laptop screen unexpectedly died after six years of faithful service. Also forgive the horrible indoor picture -- I will try to take a better picture of the shawl outside this weekend (it gets dark around 5pm in Boston so no sunlight when I get back from work),

I started this shawl almost two years ago as my New Beginnings project at the KR retreat. It was the lack of portability, not the pattern, that made this such a long process: I needed to see the chart, the rows were very long, and silk lace is slippery. I credit Fran and her "ten minute rule" for helping me see this project to completion.

The pattern is "Waves in the square" by Sivia Harding. Like the Diamond Fantasy shawl, it is very clear and easy to follow with both charted and written directions. The construction is quite clever: this is not your regular triangular shawl but a trapezoid with two adjacent triangles (but knitted in one piece). The triangles allow you to tie the shawl in the front and the trapezoid corresponds to your back (the straight edge doesn't empasize one's behind, as a triangular shawl of this size would).

The yarn is Sundara silk lace in "black over violet" which first intimidated me because of its fineness and slipperriness. But I got used to it and switched from the Addi lace needles to the regular Addi turbos to knit faster. Sundara did a fantastic dye job (as usual), there was no excess dye when I was knitting. When I blocked the shawl however, a large amount of excess dye came out. Following Sundara's recommendations, I left the shawl soak in very hot water for at least an hour and rinsed it afterwards. The water was still colored after a dozen of rinses but I had no dye on my blocking board.

I am quite happy with the finished project and will proudly wear it with my new purple coat to the KR retreat next week!

Next post: a pair of finished socks and my foray into japanese knitting books.

October 20, 2009

Bling bling

Gilet a rangs raccourcis
Originally uploaded by miminh3
I finished my GRR (the famous Gilet a Rangs Raccourcis) months ago but I only made the fastening brooch yesterday so at last, here's the finished set!

I haven't dabbled much in wire/jewelry/beads things except for making stitch markers. The brooch only took me a couple of hours so I'm hoping to make the matching necklace before the end of the year.

The gilet is knitted with La Droguerie's "alpaga" and "plumette" yarns. "Alpaga" is of course 100% alpaca, it is very close to Drops Alpaca and available in many colors (the heathered ones are especially stunning). "Plumette" is a kid mohair/polyamid blend whose colors often match the alpaga. The alpaga/plumette mix was soft but my fingers tell me that if I'm going to knit with a mohair blend, then I might as well knit with Kidsilk Haze so I will probably knit La Droguerie's patterns with an alpaga/KSH mix from now on.

I'm heading to Paris and Amsterdam in two weeks. It just so happens that:
- La Droguerie is releasing a new book at the end of the month (you can see a preview as an Advent calendar here)
- Amsterdam's main yarn store is the Rowan distributor for the Netherlands. Perhaps Kim Hargreaves' new book, Winter Blooms, will be out by then?

October 18, 2009

Stepping Stones scarf

Stepping Stones scarf
Originally uploaded by miminh3
Someone I know is taking a two year sabbatical so I wanted to give her something to wish her good luck. She's always commented on my knitting -- I even knitted her a pair of Mac and Me yoga socks a few years ago. I wanted a scarf that would be soft like a big hug, something that she could wear indoors as well as outdoors. The answer was a Stepping Stones scarf.

I finished it way ahead of the deadline: it only took me two weeks. The pattern (by Jane) was easy to memorize and the yarn (Ixchel by Spirit Trail) produced a nice and colorful "meandering". I hope the recipient likes it!

Notice the nifty blocking contraption? I was getting tired of using the guest bed and wet towels every time something required blocking so when I saw the Knitter's Block at a LYS, I splurged.

My next blocking adventure: the shawl that was two years in the making...

October 12, 2009

The Quad
Originally uploaded by miminh3

Don't you wish you were sitting in one of those Adirondack chairs and knitting? I do!

In my next post: two finished projects!

October 04, 2009

Mmmm... Fall

Foxfire Fiber studio
Originally uploaded by miminh3
It's fall foliage time in New England - though I am sad that the summer was so short, I love fall as it means perfect knitting weather, new yarns in the shops, and the KR retreat (among other things).

In between day trips to admire the leaves and studying, I've been able to stop at the Green Mountain Spinnery (their new book, 99 Yarns and Counting, is out and I highly recommend it) and attend the autumn open house organized by Barbara Parry for the Sheep Shares members.

Unfortunately, I came a little late so between that and the rain, I did not get to see the sheep but I caught a glimpse of Caitlyn (I think), one of the two llamas. It was great to hear Barb talk about the year and the exciting plans she has lined up for next year. She had many treats for us, both of the sugary kind and fibery kind (I won two skeins of Cormo Silk Alpaca in variegated purple/brown)! I touched some of Teaberry's winning fleece... I might have to add a fiber share in 2010 :)

Project-wise, I'm knitting on a deadline! The goal is to have a finished Stepping Stones scarf by the end of October. The pattern is by Jane Cochran and I'm using Spirit Trail "Ixchel" in a beautiful blue/purple. I'm about halfway done so let's see if I make it on time!

September 07, 2009

The virtues of stashing

Tulip cardigan
Originally uploaded by miminh3
The latest finished object chez Minky is the Tulip cardigan by Dream in Color, made famous by the Yarn Harlot. I purchased the kit at Purl Diva a few weeks ago. Since it was the 6-9 months size, I was wondering if I could knit it in time for baby Madison's arrival. Ellen said that I could knit it in a weekend and indeed, it took me just over a weekend!

I didn't use an i-cord edging but instead picked up the neck stitches and knitted a few rows in moss stitch. Notice anything weird about the sleeves? No, they're not symmetric! I ran out of yarn for the second sleeve but thanks to my humongous stash, I was able to find pretty good color matches in String Theory superwash merino DK (Boy says he can't tell the difference).

Currently on the needles:
- Waves in the square shawl: only 20 rows to go (each row is now about 550 stitches long)
- a pair of socks in Foxfire Fiber's Fox Sox

August 23, 2009

Adventure in fair isle

Fair Annika's hat
Originally uploaded by miminh3
In an attempt to prevent my stash from growing too fast, I have been knitting furiously. I may have purchased a few things at Purl Soho, Knitty City, String Theory, and Purl Diva but let's think of those as "souvenirs" rather than "yarn purchases", shall we?

Projects finished during July and August 2009:

- the Gilet a Rangs Raccourcis from La Droguerie. I actually bought enough supplies at La Droguerie to make a necklace/brooch set to wear with the GRR (it closes with a brooch) so I'll post pictures once I get started on the matching jewelry.

- the Blue Fish from Blue Sky Alpacas for baby Madison (expected arrival date: October 29). How wonderful to have jury duty and get uninterrupted knitting time!

- an easy baby hat from the leftover Blue Sky Alpacas Cotton

- the Sugar Plum Cardi from Sublime also for baby Madison. Note to self: do not knit baby sweaters that need to be seamed. The seaming will take as long as the knitting.

- the Fair Annika's hat from String Theory.

This is my first "real" fair isle project and I'm rather pleased with the results. It is a present for my great-aunt but I really enjoyed this project so I will definitely knit another hat for myself but in different colorways. Some ideas for next time:
- I was not consistent with the way I held the background and contrast yarns, I should remedy that next time.
- I should reread the IK article on jogless stripes.
- I can't count to 120 apparently so I must use stitch markers for the picot edge

Next in line: Sivia Harding's Waves in the Square shawl. I can't believe I started this in November 2007. Only 50 rows to go!

July 16, 2009

I won, I won!

Baby pants
Originally uploaded by miminh3
There are days when you don't want to get out of bed and there are days when you are very happy you did get out of bed! I entered the contest on Amy O'Neill Houck's blog to win a Spud and Chloe kit for her Aztec scarf pattern. Lo and behold, I won! Many thanks to Amy and the people at Blue Sky Alpacas! I hope my burgeoning crochet skills will do justice to the beautiful pattern and yummy yarn.

The same week, I read Clara's review of Spud and Chloe and ordered some Fine and Sweater yarn from kpixie. I knitted a pair of toddler pants in two evenings and fell in love with Sweater. I'm not a big fan of cotton but this is different. It's cotton and merino. It's squishy. It comes in awesome colors. It's machine washable. It's my new best friend for handknitted baby items.
(Edited to add: the pants are a loose adaptation of Alison's baby bell bottoms. The cherries bag, purchased from the KR boutique, will hopefully be full of baby knits for a friend who's expecting a little girl in October.)

I was in California earlier this week and was able to stop by the warehouse. Even though it was a warehouse, the fabrics and yarns everywhere made the whole place magical. I have never seen so many colors of Koigu KPPM (I don't think there are as many colors in the Purl location in New York) so I picked up a couple of Koigu skeins and... two more skeins of Spud and Chloe Sweater. This might become as addictive as sock yarn.

June 29, 2009

Il y a un début à tout

Hedgerow Mitts
Originally uploaded by miminh3
Since I started knitting "seriously" a few years ago, I have never knitted anything for Boy. It's not that he's not supportive of my hobby (some might say "obsession") but I couldn't find anything that
(1) I would like to knit (because black dress socks don't sound exciting to me)
(2) he would like to wear more than once
until Amy's Hedgerow mitts.

Boy will be glad to wear these when looking at birds with his binoculars or taking pictures. I was happy to knit the mitts especially because I had one skein of the yarn that they called for, Frija from Spirit Trail (this skein was acquired via Jen's yarn club). Boy and I agreed that the color was manly enough for him, but the subtle variegation and the cashmere content kept me happy while knitting.

Notes to self for future pairs of Hedgerow mitts:
- make sure that the decreases and increases occur between the 2 purl stitches so that they blend with the rest of the pattern
- when picking up stitches after the thumb gusset, knit them through the back loop to prevent holes

June 21, 2009

Two FOs before I forget

I've been reminded that I forgot to post pictures of some recent finished objects.

Project #1: Morning Surf Scarf by Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer (free pattern here) using Funky Carolina's handdyed and handspun merino.
Morning surf scarf
This was a very quick and easy knit and will make a nice spring/summer scarf to showcase the handdyed and handspun yarn.

Project #2: Elfine Socks by Anna Bell (free pattern here) using Sundara sock yarn in sea green over willow.

Elfine socks

These are knitted toe-up with a wrapped short-row heel. I didn't realize how stretchy the pattern was so they are a little too big for me. I'm not 100% satisfied with how the short-row heel came out so I'll have to work on that in my future sock projects.

The Maine fiber frolic was great: glorious weather, nice vendors, and not too many people -- I even got to see a sock knitting machine in action. I made my planned stops at Spunky Eclectic (if you're a spinner, have you ordered Amy's book yet?) and String Theory (Karen just started a blog). I discovered a new hand-dyer, Dye Dreams, who was selling Blue Faced Leicester sock yarn. I've never knitted with BFL before (though I've spun with it already) so this will be a new experience.

June 02, 2009

May in a snap -- part 2

Roman forum
Originally uploaded by miminh3
The vacation in Italy was great despite the lack of knitting focus (unlike our vacation to New Zealand). But knitting is everywhere around us so when I saw this building near the Roman Forum, my first reaction was Koolhaas Hat!

While travelling by train between Rome and Florence and taking the plane, I started a pair of Anna Bell's Elfine socks with Sundara sock yarn in "sea green over willow". The first sock is almost done, I'm hoping to finish the pair by the end of this weekend after going to the Maine Fiber Frolic.

I'm also halfway done with La Droguerie's gilet a rangs raccourcis (i.e. short row cardigan). Not the most thrilling knitting project since it's all garter stitch but it is the perfect project for knitting in the dark because you only need to count stitches from the edge once in a while (which you can do in the dark by touch). The alpaga/plumette mix is highly squeezable too!

May in a snap -- part 1

Diagonal lace socks
Originally uploaded by miminh3
May went by quickly between the New Hampshire sheep and wool festival, an exam, a visit from my parents, and a trip to Italy.

The NH sheep and wool was a lot of fun. This time, I got to see the most experienced dogs during the sheep dog trials and they were very impressive. Almost perfect scores and plenty of time to spare. Of course, I didn't come home empty-handed thanks to stops at the Foxfire fiber, Grafton Fibers, and Ball and Skein booths.

It was nice to see Barb Parry again and have my copy of her book autographed. I discovered her yarn at the NH S&W two years ago and am always looking to get my hands on more of her yarn and fiber at the Maine Fiber Frolic, Massachusetts Sheep and Wool, Knitter's Review Retreat, and now her Sheep Shares Club. Can you tell I'm hooked?

Despite the flurry of activity, I finished my Diagonal Lace socks and am pretty happy with the fit.

April 30, 2009

One sock in April, one sock in May

My pair of socks for April/May is from Wendy Johnson's "Socks from the toe up": it's the Diagonal lace socks which I'm knitting out of Sundara sock yarn in "Denim over Prussian" acquired ages ago.

I'm knitting with 50 stitches rather than the recommended 66 stitches so there are fewer pattern repeats around the foot and I also had to fiddle with the stitch count for the gusset heel. It's my first gusset heel and I can't help looking at it thinking "a gusset heel for a toe-up sock is like a heel turn for a cuff-down sock". Put that together with "an afterthough heel is like a toe" and then you start thinking that foot anatomy is very strange indeed.

I accomplished one of my KR retreat goals: knitting with handspun yarn (no, it wasn't spun by me but by the lovely Carrie at Funky Carolina). After trying several patterns, I decided on the Morning Surf Scarf that I had seen in the Summer 2008 Spin-Off. I'll post a picture once it's blocked.

April 13, 2009

Mademoiselle Dentelle

Echarpe dentelle
Originally uploaded by miminh3
I finished this lace scarf a while ago but only got around to blocking it this weekend. It uses La Droguerie's Alpaga in "erables" (maple) which is fortuitous since the recipient is Canadian. The pattern is really just one row to memorize so it was the perfect knitting project to carry around.

Now it's time to choose a new sock project! I'll be poring over Cookie A's Sock innovation and Wendy Johnson's Socks from the toe up...

March 31, 2009

Trying something new...

crochet swatch
Originally uploaded by miminh3
Crochet. Who would have thought??

I'm learning the basic stitches so that I will be able to seam and finish my knitted projects painlessly in the future. This Rowan book is great for beginners like me.

Am I the only one who thinks that crochet is harder than knitting? I have to look up the description of every stitch as I tend to confuse them in my head. That, and I also can't remember if I should count the turning chain stitches or not on a given row. But as for knitting, I'm sure that I'll eventually get it :)

March 19, 2009

March Phat Fiber box

March Phat Fiber box
Originally uploaded by miminh3
What's better than getting yarn or fiber from an indie producer? Getting yarn or fiber from 20!

I was lucky enough to get a Phat Fiber Sampler for March after reading the review on Knitty. Plenty of fiber to spin (probably on one of my spindles rather than the wheel in order to get a better feel for each fiber), handspun or hand-dyed yarns to swatch with (maybe the cute crochet pattern that was in my box), a stitch marker, a yarny bookmark, a pretty notecard, and many coupons.

March 16, 2009

More knitting presents!

I just rotated to a new department but it was with a heavy heart that I left my coworkers of 15 months who are now my friends. They know about my yarn addiction and my knitting obsession (the KR calendar on my desk might have been a tip off) through my frequent mentions of knitting blogs, knitting podcasts, and knitting retreats. One of them, the only woman, is a knitter but the guys don't get it so I was really surprised when they gave me some wonderful goodbye gifts: "The Opinionated Knitter" by EZ, a skein of Jade Sapphire Cashmere (who doesn't love cashmere?!), and a matching pattern (Dragon Scale scarf by Bad Cat Designs). So now I have to plan some knitting gifts for them, though one of them already received the Koolhaas hat I was knitting during the last KR retreat.

Square 2 of the Barn Raising Quilt is finished: 2 down, only 40 to go! I'm hoping that the Rowan's Crochet Workshop will teach me some good crochet finishing skills so that putting the squares together won't be painful.

I'm almost done with a lace scarf from La Droguerie and will post a picture when it's done and blocked.

February 18, 2009

A Yarny Valentine's Day

Originally uploaded by miminh3
or "Singles awareness day" as one of my friends likes to call it.

I received this lovely yarn bouquet from Boy. Why give flowers that will not last long when you can give yarn? ;)

February 16, 2009

True blue

Duet sock
Originally uploaded by miminh3
My February socks are a pair of stockinette toe-up socks with an afterthought heel in Duet sock yarn. This yarn is DK weight so it knits up quickly and will keep me warm and toasty this winter.

I'm planning on keeping my leftover sock yarn to make a Barn Raising Quilt. This first square is knitted out of Sundara sock yarn in "Denim over Prussian". Wouldn't a quilt made entirely out of Sundara yarn be awesome?!

January 18, 2009

First FO of the year

Hedgerows socks
Originally uploaded by miminh3
I'm on the right track to keeping my knitting resolution of knitting 6 pairs of socks this year -- I present to you a pair of Hedgerow socks, designed by the lovely Jane, in the yarn it actually called for (Sundara sock yarn in "green over apricot").

I knit these two at a time on one circular needle following Melissa's book (and her class at the KR retreat). If you're going to do the same, just pay attention to the distribution of stitches for the heel flap before you start knitting. Since Jane cleverly makes the stitch pattern continue onto the heel, you might want to have the corresponding number of stitches on each side of the cord so that you don't need to move stitches around when you get to the heel flap.

Our trip to London and Paris was very nice. It was hard to come back to work and I still haven't full readjusted. I bought many cute buttons while travelling and purchased enough yarn for the two coveted sweaters at La Droguerie. The gilet a rangs raccourcis is fastened with a brooch so I bought all the pearls/buttons/wire needed to make a brooch and a matching necklace at Le Bon Marche (La Droguerie stand).

I have many pictures of London but their public transport campaign was so cute that I thought I'd share a couple of pictures with you. Just click here!