Saturday, August 26, 2006

P is for Passiflora

I bought this passion flower vine at the local farmer's market last year. I planted it in the backyard and trained it to grow up a trellis. It grew pretty large but I never saw one flower. I was told that the variety I purchased would not overwinter in our area and come back. This spring I pulled up all the dead vine and even put the trellis away in the garage.

I was out watering some plants and imagine my surprise when I took a peak behind some bushes and saw a huge vine covered with these flowers!

I'm not really sure if the plant set seed last year or actually came back from the roots, but if it is willing to stay and grow - I'm going to try and keep it! This is probably the only plant the deer haven't eaten this year.

I'm going to have to get the trellis back out. I Think I will try and find a purple variety for next year. I love these flowers - they are just so strange.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Toe Up Socks

I started my first toe up socks. Once I finished the Rock and Weave socks I decided that I wanted to knit another pair of socks with a new technique for me to learn. I was reading through some knitting blogs and came across the Anastasia Sock pattern by Pepperknit.

The pattern is a toe up sock with a eyelet detail and was knit using Koigu KPPM. I have a little bit of that in the stash so I decided to give this pattern a try.

I have made a couple of modifications to the pattern. The pattern calls for a short row heel and casting on provisional stitches. I decided to try the Queen Kahuna Aloha" toe-up cast-on. It was actually really easy and quick. It basically uses a long tail cast on and two sets of circular needles. Basically you cast on alternating needles for each stitch until you have the total number of stitches needed. Then just start the rounds for the toe. I think this is the quickest I ever got a sock started. There was really no worrying about casting on a large number of stitches and worrying about twisting them as I knitted the first row.

The pattern has a chart for two swirls of eyelets up the foot and leg. I recharted the stitches and added a third swirl by decreasing the space between the swirls. You can't really see the eyelets in my picture - but they run up both sides of the narrow diagonal ribs. I'll get a better shot of that detail for the next picture. It does show up more when the sock in on a foot.

I'm using some koigu that I bought while on a trip for work last fall. So far the pattern is great. It is interesting to watch the swirls form as I knit up the foot and it is easy enough that I don't really need to look at the chart any more. But now I'm getting close to having to start the heel. The pattern has instructions for a short row heel based on Wendy Johnson's Generic Toe-Up Sock pattern. I'm thinking of trying something else. If you can offer a suggestion on heel instructions for a toe up sock, leave me a note. I'd love to check out several options before I pick one to use.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

O is for Origami

I was at a craft store today and noticed origami paper and figured that was as good as any other "O" I might think of, so what the heck. I brought home the paper and folded a couple cranes. Don't look too close or you will see the sloppy folding job. Origami is one of those projects set aside a long time ago. I don't think I've tried origami since grade school. Instructions for the crane and a couple other small animals were included with the paper. It really is amazing the number of things you can create from a simple square of paper.

This little mask is a design I remember from a little book my mom bought me. I don't think I got the mouth quite right - but you get the idea.

I've always loved crafts that involve a great variety of color and material and paper crafts definitely have that. There are so many beautiful papers with great color and patterns, not to mention the variety of materials and textures in handmade papers. I've made paper too.

This is exactly the kind of talk that distracts me to something else and another project is set aside. So I'll end here and get back to my knitting.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Opal Ladybug Socks

Project Info
Pattern: Simple Sock (2x2 rib)
Book - Socks Soar on Circular Needles
Designed by Cat Bordhi
Yarn: Opal (100g)
Color - Ladybug
Needles: addi TURBO -US# 1/2.5mm
Gauge: 9.5 stitches/inch

After the Rock and Weaves were finished, I was ready to start a new pair of socks and went in search of the needles I wanted. I found them, but they were already occupied. They were in still in my first 2 socks 2 circs project. I was using a different yarn for each sock. One out of the Opal Ladybug and the other out of a self-striping Online yarn. I was into the foot of the first mismatched pair when I set it aside back in April. I had decided I didn't really want both pair of the socks to end up in the 2x2 ribbing I was doing.

Since I wanted the needles, I had to decide on the existing project. I figured I ought to do something a little different with the Online. Maybe a pair of jaywalkers or one of the chevron patterns from Sensational Knitted Socks. So, I put the Online sock on stitch holders and finished a pair out of Opal. I finally got the Opal socks complete last night. The Online pair will have to wait in limbo for a little while. I'm headed back to the initial intended project.

The hardest part of socks for me is always grafting the toe closed. But I am getting better and the toes are starting to look better. I found some instructions with pictures and that has really helped The instructions are by Mary Ann Beatie and available on her Queen Kahuna Creations website. She also has some instructions for casting on for toe up socks that I'm going to try next.

I'm surprised that I have so much yarn leftover. I still have 32 grams out of the original 100. I don't know if I've ever had quite that much leftover before. Maybe that would be enough for a pair of anklets. I I've been thinking of making a blanket out of my leftover superwash sock yarn too. The blanket would be something knit in squares or long strips and then bound together. What do you do with your leftover sock yarn.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Knitty SP7 Strikes Again

My pal has struck again and as you can see the package is great. The package has a lovely fall color theme with all the reds, oranges, and golds. I got two skeins of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in wonderful persimmon. This is very soft - I love it. My pal had in mind fingerless gloves using Knitty's Fetching pattern when this was yarn purchased and I think it will be a perfect project. I really like the simple cables in the pattern. I'll be casting on for this soon!

I also got some Brittany needles. ( I think my pal has read my blog!) I'm really looking forward to trying these needles. I love how the needles are so light weight. I also got a yarn cutter pendant. I've wanted one of these - but just never got one. The little scissors I keep in my knitting bag just doesn't work very well so this is a much needed addition to the knitting bag. I got some tea, note paper, and a little package of SOAK to wash some wool.

I still have no idea who my pal is, but this package arrived yesterday in the mailbox and didn't have any postage attached. That makes it even more puzzling!

Thanks SP - I really enjoyed this package!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Stitch Marker Swap

I joined in for a stitch marker swap on the Knitty Coffeeshop. I made markers to swap with nine different people. So far I've received three very nice sets of markers.

These markers were sent by Lynnea. She used toggle clasps for the ring. It make a very nice finished look to the marker - and they are very light weight. I really like the lightness and the way the little clear beads sparkle like crystal.

This set is from Cristi . I really like how she used the bead cap on the bottom of the marker. The blue beads remind me of garden gazing balls. Very pretty.

And the third set was from Shona. The beads have a really neat depth to the color. Check out the cool little bag she knit for them - out of left over sock yarn.

Thanks to all three of you!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

N is for Needles

Knitting needles of course. As I scoured the house and yard for N, I found these. I keep them on my desk in a old cut glass vase. These are actually all the straight needles I own. I did have one set of Balene needles; they were actually the first needles I ever tried. I didn't like the flexibility of the needles. I thought they were too bendy. I never even completed a project on them. They were donated to someone learning to knit.

So these needles were my alternative. I love the fact they come in a variety of colors. A lot of the organization I do is by colors. Color and the cost were what made these attractive. But I never really got comfortable holding a project on these needles. I always ended up holding them awkwardly, so I tried a bamboo circular needle. I thought they were nice, but a little grabby with certain yarns. But I really was more comfortable holding the circular needles for knitting.

So I bought a Addi Turbo needle at the LYS and was hooked. I've been thinking about trying one of the interchangeable sets that are available, but I think it would just be too fiddley to mess around trying to put needles together. What are your favorite needles and why?