Saturday, April 22, 2006

Sensational Knitted Socks - Book Review

Sensational Knitted Socks, by Charlene Schurch, is a great book. I ordered the book online and it arrived last week. I have had some time to look through it and it is a great resource for beginners and experienced sock knitters alike.

The front of the books contains a great introductory section explaining sock anatomy, different knitting techniques, sock yarns, and a troubleshooting section. Charts are provided that give sock measurements for different children's, women's, and men's shoe sizes. There is even a pattern for a beginners' sock in a worsted weight yarn.

The instructions are arranged by the number of stitches that make up the stitch pattern of each sock. Instructions for four, five, six, eight, and twelve stitch patterns are provided. There are also instructions for creating cabled, chevron, fair isle, mosaic, and four stitch reticulated patterned socks. The Chevron patterns are perfect for all those self-striping yarns you might have stashed away.

There is also a little stitch dictionary for each section. How cool is that? The patterns are provided in a chart and written out with round by round instructions. You could also substitute a stitch pattern from your favorite stitch dictionary for the ones provided with ease. If fact with a stitch dictionary the possibilities seem limitless.

Each set of instructions begins with a table that helps you decide the number of stitches to cast on based on your foot circumference measurements and the number of stitches in your pattern. Actual instructions are provided for three different methods of knitting socks, 4 dpns, 5 dpns, and 2 circular needles. What ever your preferences - this book covers it. The patterns are presented in easy to read color coded tables by technique. Color photos accompany each pattern.

As we all know, no knitting book is perfect. Corrections are available on the publisher's website. Click this link for corrections: Sensational Knitted Socks Corrections.

My only real wish is that this was a spiral bound book. I'm thinking on taking it to a copy shop to see if they can put a spiral binding on it. So if you are thinking of getting a book on knitting socks or want to learn to knit socks - this is a great book.

Friday, April 21, 2006

H is for Hindu Rope

This plant is a member of the Hoya family and is technically called Hoya carnosa Compacta. It's common names are Hindu Rope or Krinkle Kurls plant. Those names are a lot more fun and easier to remember. This plant is somewhat unusual, but surprisingly it is usually available at the big home improvement stores. That is were I bought this one a couple years ago.

The plant is a slow grower, but very easy to keep alive. This one lives out on the covered porch during the summer and inside near a bright window during the colder months. This is a close up of the curled leaves.

There is also a variegated variety that has predominately green and white leaves with little touches of pink. I've also read that these plants are fairly easy to propagate - so I'm going to try taking some cuttings this weekend. If the plant is allowed to get root bound - it will bloom. The blooms don't look real to me. They look like little plastic balls made up of small pink flowers - take a look. This one has not bloomed for me, but I'm hoping it will next year. I think it still has a while to go to fill out the big pot I used.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

2 Socks on 2 Circular Needles - Update

Progress on my socks is happening although not at lightning quick speed. I knitted the leg portion about six inches. I didn't count rows, just pulled out a tape measure and will measure the pairs. The nice part about this technique if I was doing two of the SAME sock simultaneously - no measuring, row counting or guessing.

On the other hand, having the two different colored yarns has been nice. It is so easy to see when to change yarns; I was afraid that the first couple of times I tried this I would forgot to switch balls in between socks and would spend an inordinate amount of time unknitting. Hopefully, I'll be past that little glitch for the next pair.

As you can see I've turned the heel for both socks. I knitted the heel flaps on each sock at the same time. I turned the heel on sock one, then turned the heel for sock two. I actually like turning the heel on socks. It's quick and it is neat to see the little cup shape form for your heel so quickly.

I referenced instructions after I turned the heels to figure out picking up the gusset stitches, and apparently I should have picked up one side of the gusset stitches in between turning the heels. So now I need to figure out how I'm going to catch myself up with the stitches that should be on the needle.

I really like this method for sock knitting. I think once I get the gusset stitches figured out, it will be smooth sailing! I had wanted to try a new heel for these socks, but didn't get around to it. I ordered the Sensational Knitted Socks book and it came after I had started the heel flaps. So I'll wait until next time to try a different heel.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Baby Greentree Frog

The little Greentree frogs that sing to us every year have begun to make their 2006 appearance. Last night we had a baby visit our back porch.

This little guy will grow to about twice the size he is now and turn a bright green. You can see the frog's current size in the picture to the left. Not much bigger than a penny. So even when full grown, it won't be bigger than about 2 inches.

Usually in the summer I find them clinging to our windows and doors. They have little sucker pads on their feet. I'm not kidding about the singing, they get loud. These frogs congregate in large choruses of several hundred. I think we have several choruses of them based on how loud they get. We hear them throughout the summer. You can hear a sample of their voice on

Saturday, April 08, 2006

I'm Working On It - Really I Am

You may have noticed that I have a little button over on the side that indicates I'm working on the Weekend Getaway Satchel that appeared in the Fall 2005 issue of Interweave Knits. I realized the other day that the little button has been up there since I started the blog in January and there hasn't been one post on this project yet. So it's time.

I decided I really needed this bag as soon as I saw it for the first time. I hadn't been knitting long and really wasn't sure if I could handle the project. It looked like a really big project to me. The pattern called for 32 balls of yarn and had ominous terms like intarsia, gussets, embroidery, and seams. It sounded like a lot more commitment than I, as a beginner, was willing to make to any project. That is a lot of yarn to have sitting around if I didn't finish the darn thing. Now wait a minute before you say anything, I was a beginner. The idea of a whole stash of unused yarn hadn't even taken hold in my mind. As you can tell from my Flash Your Stash - 2006 post, I have since gotten the hang of how things can work.

When my mom came to visit last October - she was pleased to see me knitting. She's is a very talented lady and knitting is one of the many things she has mastered. She took a look at the pattern and declared that of course I could knit that. She also added that if I wanted, she would knit one for me. Now that was a great offer; my mom has always made wonderful things for me. And here she was, offering to make yet another project for me. Instead, I took it as a challenge and decided I could do it and I ordered the yarn. Some of the yarn was backordered, but it was all here by Christmas last year. I finally started the project early January.

Now that I have been knitting for a little longer, the project doesn't seem daunting at all. It's just going slow. I work on it in between other projects or when I'm trying to figure out what other projects to start. It has become a stereotypical stepchild of my knitting projects.

I decided to start with the straps. It seemed that would be the most boring part of the project. The pattern calls for the straps(2) to be knit in stockinette stitch, eight stitches wide by eight feet long. I was right, that was boring, but both are done. This picture shows the two straps and the two side gussets that are specified in the pattern.

I've also started the front panel of the bag. I am knitting the whole pattern as written, Reynolds Lite Lopi on size 15(US) needles. The back is supposed to be solid according to the pattern, but if I have enough yarn, I may do flowers on both front and back. Although, it will get finished a lot quicker if I make a solid back. The intarsia on the front panel is not really complicated or too challenging. It's turning out as a nice introduction to the technique. Plus, the finished project is going to be felted, so most mistakes will disappear.

You can see I haven't really gotten very far on the front. I'm not loving the whole process. I keep getting a tangle of yarn that has to be separated every few rows. I'm sure I'll get the hang of it eventually. It would probably help if I was using shorter lengths of the colors. The thought of actually getting to use the bag is what is keeping me going, albeit at a very slow pace.

I have the hex frame for the top, the buckles for the straps, and the feet for the bottom. I don't have a piece of masonite for the bottom yet, or the fabric to cover the masonite. I love projects like this that have a bunch of parts and stuff that goes with it.

Here is my math for the rest of the project. When I get this bag finished, it will free up space in my stash for 32 balls of yarn. I'll carry this bag into a LYS and bring home 32 new little treasures. So I better get knitting.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

G is for Golden Gate Bridge

I took this picture of the Golden Gate Bridge during a business trip a couple years ago to San Francisco. The trip was a week long and I only got to leave the hotel on the last afternoon of the trip. It wasn't enough time to do much of anything, so a few co-workers and I made arrangements to take a helicopter tour of the city and visit Fisherman's Warf and Ghirardeli Square for souvenir shopping and dinner.

My favorite part of Fisherman's Warf was definitely the sea lions. I couldn't believe how many of them were hanging out there. Shopping for souvenirs was okay, but there are only so many t-shirts and coffee mugs one really needs. When I do take home a souvenir from a trip I like it to be something unique, something you cannot get at home, or something that really reminds you of your trip. I usually do get a little Christmas ornament and I always bring a little prize for my husband from business trips. This time he ended up with a Bubba Gump ping pong paddle. He loves ping pong - now he only needs a table.

I wasn't a knitter yet, so I didn't check out any local yarn pr0n on the trip to San Francisco. The funny thing is now when I go on a business trip, I search to see if any yarn shops are within a reasonable distance to my hotel. Last year before traveling to Portland, I found a two stores within striking distance from the hotel and even mapped out a walking paths to get there. I did get a museum visit in that trip too, but only because it was between the hotel and the yarn shop.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Flash Your Stash - 2006

Alright, it's finally April 1st and time to show everyone what's been stashed away in my closet. I tried to concentrate on the yarn itself when taking pictures. You won't see my closets or the mess that took over my craft area. So there are lots of close ups of the yarn in my stash, just a lot of good yarn pr0n.

I didn't want to post all the individual photos I took of the stash to my blog, that could have taken forever. So, I made a single image from some of the pictures I took. You can view the entire set of pictures by visiting my photo set of flickr. You can also view it as a slide show. If you are in slide show mode, just click once on a picture and it will show a description I entered of each yarn.

My stash is certainly not that large, especially compared to some. But I've been knitting for about one year now and I just can't continue to stash at the current rate. I've been on a yarn diet since January. My goal for the year is to use up as much of the stash possible. Of course, that means I'll get to replace it all when I'm finished.

To make the image above, I used the Mosaic Maker from fd's Flickr Toys. A friend of mine made one using close up face shots of her new little girl. She put it up as a screen saver at work. It's really cute. I thought about getting a mouse pad printed up with my stash mosaic picture. It would brighten up my cube space at work. It was really easy to use. You can select the number of images you use by selecting the number of columns and the number of rows.

If you've got some time, take a look at the stashes of all the other flashers are posting today.