Off the Needles

I am woefully behind on sharing my most recent finished objects.  You know they aren’t really finished until someone wears or takes a photo of them, right?

One morning this week before opening, I did a little photo shoot inside Stash.  I can only imagine what people thought as they walked by the window and saw me laying back on the sofa taking photos of my feet.  Oh well; knittas be crazy.

Then I played around taking photos of my reflection in all the mirrors in the shop.  Also crazy fun!

This was a really fun project, and it has sort of started me on a hat kick.  I’m thinking Slable next.

Hope you’re having a fun weekend, perhaps even finishing up a project of your own!

Obama-rama Hat

I improvised the pattern for this hat based on the instructions in Knitting Rules by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.  To get started, you knit a swatch and check your gauge.  I know, this isn’t something that we all love, but if you’re making it up as you go, swatching works.  I got 5 stitches per inch and wanted it to fit a 21-inch head.  You multiply those numbers to get the number of stitches to cast on (105).

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I wanted to do a k2 p2 rib to start, so rounded up to the next even number and cast on 106 stitches.  I knit for a couple of inches and the hat was coming out HUGE–fabric is really stretchy.   So I ripped it out and cast on less stitches for a snugger fit. This is why you, too, should knit a gauge swatch with your yarn and needles!

Obama-rama Hat

(as improvised by Peaceful Knitter–this is just how I remember doing my hat and is not meant to be perfect.)

  • Yarn: GGH Tara, approx 110 yards in blue (MC), 10 yards in white (CC) and cotton scraps in red, white and blue

  • Needles: US size 7 16-inch circular needles

CO 100 stitches

K2 P2 for 1.5 inches, or until desired length of ribbing is achieved.

Knit in stockinette stitch for 2 inches.

Join CC and knit stripe in SS for 1 inch.

Join MC and knit in SS for 2 inches, or until hat is 1/2-inch less that desired size.

Decrease row 1:  K2tog, k1 around

Decrease row 2:  K

Rep these 2 rows until 8 stitches remain.  Break yarn and thread onto a tapestry needle.  Thread the needle through the live stitches and pull through.  Put needle through to wrong side and weave in the end to secure.

Duplicate stitch motif

Duplicate stitch motif

I used this chart from Just Jenean to duplicate stitch the Obama logo onto the front of the hat. Try to center the logo so that you have a row of MC above and below.

This was my first time trying out this technique.  I had expected it to be somewhat faster and less fiddly than knitting the motif into the hat.  It probably could be for someone who was more familiar with the ways of the duplicate stitch, but for me…well, let’s just say I was putting the finishing touches on it in bed on Monday night.  it’s tricky getting the tension of the stitches just right so that the yarn beneath doesn’t show through.  The upside is that there is no puckering or pulling in of stitches around the design.

Have you tried duplicate stitch?  If so, are there any tips or tricks you’d like to share?

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A Beautiful Day for Knitting

Yesterday was a wonderful day for knitters, and this knitter in particular (since I am the star of this blog).

It started out with me putting way too much thought into what I was going to wear to the event. One naturally wants to show off some handknit goodness when going to an event where hundreds of other knitters will be present. We each have to show our proudest achievement, a characteristically knit item. Since I haven’t knit anything I can actually cover up my main body parts with, I opted for my most interesting store-bought knitwear on top. And of course, I wore my most recently finished socks, too (see previous post).

That’s me, unable to contain my goofy excietment just before entering Webs to shop and meet Stephanie.

Sweetie and I got there about 1/2 an hour before the book signing was scheduled to begin. There were already dozens of knitters trolling the aisles for beautiful yarn. Sweetie was kind enough to hold my place in the signature line while I did a little shopping. I know, those were two things I was going to try to refrain from doing, but something came over me. There was such excitement in the air, so many pretty things to look at, that in the end, resistance was futile.

I went with a list of potential yarns for 2 projects I had in mind. I’m happy to say, I found yarn for both pieces, and they were on sale! And, because I am me and it was 25% off, I also bought some sock yarn for later. You know, in case I run out sometime in the next year…

So many of the knitters there were out in their finest creations. I saw several sweaters I recognized from Interweave Knits, as well as many other beautiful hand made pieces. It was very inspiring!

After I purchased the goodies, I took my place in line and got a little knitting done.

It was at this point that an inexplicable giddiness overcame me, and I was all smiles and sweaty palms. I have never sought out someone’s autograph before, not even when that’s what we’re all there for like at Debbie Stoller’s book signing. I am usually pretty calm and cool around famous people, wanting to impress them by how unimpressed I am, I guess. But I simply had to meet Stephanie. I had to thank her for writing Knitting Rules, and her blog, and for providing laughter and validation to knitters around the world.

When it was my turn, I stammered out an in-eloquent “Thank you for writing this book. It has liberated my sock knitting!” It was here that I thrust a needle into the air like a guerrilla knitter proclaiming victory. She didn’t laugh. So I said “Yeah, so I don’t even need a sock pattern anymore, it’s great.” And she said “No, people don’t need a pattern,” and handed me my book back.

We shared an awkward pause, after which I said Thank You and faded away. I’m not saying she wasn’t friendly–she totally was, and she gave everyone their moment to interact. It was a pleasure to meet her.

And that was only round one!

The Sweetie and I had plenty of time to grab some lunch, stroll around downtown, and get great seats. I should also take a moment to mention out kick ass parking spot, a mere 100 feet from the front door of the theater. We went there straight after the book signing to scope out the location, and lo! There was this beautiful parking space just waiting for us.

Inside, we found a seat right in the center of the front row in the balcony. Which was just fine with me, because it was a madhouse down on the floor.

The next few pictures were taken in a very dark auditorium; please excuse their wonkiness!

Word is that over 1,000 people pre-registered for the event. The collective power of all the knitting going on in that room could probably have powered the city for the 2 hours we were inside!

Sweetie and I passed the time with our respective hobbies:

NY Times Crossword + Diagonal Cross rib socks = dynamic duo!

I’m so thankful that I got to go on a knitting field trip with such a supportive partner. She stood in line for me, took photos, didn’t judge me when I bought more yarn, and even found herself laughing a few times during the talk.

After the Webs owners raffled off some awesome prizes, it was finally time. The Yarn Harlot herself was in the house, and the first thing she did was take our pictures with her sock.

And then she spoke for about an hour, reading from an essay she had written about how smart knitters really are. We are changing the way our brains work (for the better), strengthening our minds, buiding relationships with other knitters, feeling relief from stress, anxiety, attention issues, and even depression, all while practicing this activity which others view as simple or boring. I think we all know that knitting is neither simple nor boring! It affects who we are, and that is a wonderful thing. I know that for me, knitting has saved my life this past couple of years as I have struggled with health issues, depression, and adjusting to living in a new state. I don’t know how I would cope with life in general if I didn’t have my knitting to focus on and comfort me!

One of my favorite quotes was a story she told about a friend of hers who was knitting while waiting in a doctor’s office. A stranger actually said to her “I’m glad I’ve never been bored enough to knit.” Whoa. Her friend, who is more clever and brave that I think I would have been in the moment replied: “I’m grateful I knit. And I’m glad I’ve never been bored enough to insult a stranger in a waiting room.” Save that one in case you need a witty reply some day!

It was a wonderful day, and I’m so glad I took the time to go. I feel more connected to the knitting community and to this passion I have. We are not alone! We are not silly for being so devoted to our craft. It is a valid way to spend time, and we should all be proud to say that we are knitters.

Across the Finish Line

Two finished objects to show off this week!

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  • Pattern: Basic Sock Recipe from Knitting Rules by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
  • Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Merino in Peacock
  • Needles: Size 2.5 dpns

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This close up of the heel gives a better idea of the amazing color variations in this yarn. I bought this yarn because I loved the colors for myself. But as I continued to knit them, someone else started to fall in love and I had to give them up. These turned out to be a fabulous pair of socks for my sweetie, which works in my favor since I can now knit another pair for myself!

After seeing Becca’s finished Tudora neck-warmer at my knitting group on Monday, I was overcome with the desire, the need, to cast one on for myself. I had about 1/2 a skein of Malabrigo worsted weight leftover from the cabled hat project, and thought it might be enough. And it was! This was a quick knit, done over the course of 2 evenings while watching such stellar TV programs as Beauty and the Geek, America’s Next Top Model and American Idol. Ugh…I can’t believe I just admitted that! Wait–I’ll blame the writer’s strike for forcing me to find alternate programming these past few months. Yeah, that’s it…

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  • Pattern: Tudora by Cheryl Marling
  • Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted Weight in color 192
  • Needles: Size 8 circular

I still had a couple of yards leftover after sewing on the button. I can’t seem to get rid of some yarns, no matter how hard I try. This reminds me that last weekend I decided to do a mini reorganization of my stash. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I have had a major influx of stash, between my trip to Webs and the SnB cruise. During this purge, I was finally able to actually throw away little balls of yarn that I know I will never use. I did save all my sock yarn remnants, still holding on to the hope that one day I will make one of these sock monkeys.

The way I see it, I finished 2 projects, so I can start 2 new projects, right? I have startitis, and will probably start yet another project this weekend. I have no idea what it may be, but if the weather is dreary it will probably be bright. My sister and her husband are arriving from Idaho today for a week-long visit. It is my secret hope that she will ask me to show her to knit. During her visit last year, she knit several inches of a cotton rectangle with fierce determination. Maybe if I show her my stash, then Ravelry, she will be inspired to pick a pattern and work on a project…I will bring her over to the dark side!