Saturday, December 27, 2008

My Mom!

Look how cute she is!

Saturday, December 20, 2008


It's a hat with owls! Yay!

This is for my brother, whose mangyle will never be done. Certainly not for christmas. He always sends me pictures of owls, so i figured he'd appreciate it. Anyway, just for PoorLuci, here's what I did:


1 ball Nashua Creative Focus (I used half)
size 6 circular needle and dpns (or however you want to do it)
stitch marker
4 small buttons for eyes (optional, you can use more, less, or none at all)

sewing needle and thread

infant (child, adult) Note about sizing: I've only tested the adult size, please let me know about any problems with the smaller size and I'll be happy to fix them.

C4F: slip two sts onto cable needle and hold in front, k2, k2 from cable neeedle
C4B: slip two sts onto cable needle and hold in back, k2, k2 from cable needle

Owl Cable pattern:
(multiple of 11 sts)
Rounds 1-3: *p3, k8, repeat from * to end
Round 4: *p3, C4B, C4f, repeat from * to end
Rounds 5-11: same as round 1
Round 12: same as round 4
Round 13: same as round 1
Rounds 14-15: *p3, k1, p2, k2, p2, k1. repeat from * to end
Round 16-17: same as round 1
Round 18: same as round 4
Round 19: same as round 1

Cast on 92 (100, 112) sts, join in round and work in 2x2 ribbing for 1 inch.
Switch to stockinette and work for 5 rounds, decreasing 4(1,2) sts evenly spaced in row 3. 88(99, 110) sts.

Work 19 rows of owl cable pattern over all sts.
Knit 1 or more rows and increase 0(5,2) sts. 88 (104, 112) sts.

Continue in stockinette stitch until work measures 4.5 (5, 6) inches including ribbing or to desired length.

Decrease as follows: (nothing mysterious here, just like a regular hat)
*K 9(11, 12) k2tog, repeat from * to end.
K1 round plain.
K 8(10, 11), k2tog.
K1 plain.
Continue decreasing in this manner until 40 (56, 64) sts remain.
Then decrease every round (no plain rounds) until 8 sts remain. Cut yarn and pass through remaining sts to fasten off.

Weave in all ends and block.

Sew buttons over the purl sections within the cable pattern that form the owl's eyes. I only did 2 owls, but you could do as many as you want. To be sure that the thread doesn't pull through, tie a nice big knot.

Pattern and photos © Sara Amoroso, 2008-2009. Permission is given for personal use only. This pattern or items made from it may not be sold.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Since I made the video...

Originally uploaded by eudyptula48
This is how i do a long-tail cast on. I made it to help a friend, but what she really needed was a video on continental knitting. perhaps someday.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Swampfield Cowl: free pattern!

Though my mister is notoriously hard to knit for (he already has a hat, why on earth would he want another?) my Dad is fantastic and loves everything I make for him, even funny looking hats. Since he already has a few of them and a pair of fingerless gloves, I wanted to make something different this year without the stress and time investment of something like a sweater. Nor is he the kind of dude to wear a scarf. Enter the Swampfield Cowl, named after the former name of the town he lives in, and because i like to say "Swampfield." It's very fast, easy, and cheap, requiring just one ball of yarn; all ideal with the holidays coming up. And when you weave the ends in carefully, it will be fully reversible.

Swampfield Cowl
Yarn: 1 ball Cascade 109 Tweed LE
Needles: US 10.5 (6.5 mm) 16 or 20 inch circular needle
Notions: cable needle, stitch marker, yarn needle for weaving ends

Stitch Guide
C8F: Slip next 4 sts onto cable needle and hold in front. Work next 4 sts in k1p1 rib as established, then work 4 sts from cable needle, also in k1p1 rib as established.

CO 80 sts and join in round. For the love of mike make sure not to twist! Place marker to indicate beginning of round.

Rounds 1-4: *k1p1, repeat from * to end
Round 5: *C8F, (making sure to keep all sts in k1p1 rib) work 8 sts in k1p1 rib. Repeat 5 times from * to end of round.
Rounds 6-9: as for rounds 1-4
Round 10: *work 8 sts in k1p1 ribbing, C8F. Repeat 5 times from * to end of round.

Repeat rounds 1-10 once more, then repeat rounds 1-7 once more.

Bind of loosely in pattern, weave in ends, and hey presto!

Pattern and photos © Sara Amoroso, 2008-2009. Permission is given for personal use only. This pattern or items made from it may not be sold.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

today was made of win

Today was the big LSG meetup at WEBS; about 10 thoroughly awesome members made it out. Between the knuckle tats, groping, yarn buying, and swearing in front of old people, it was a ball. I feel very lucky to have met yberry, sarahsarah, crabbycrocheter, wickedgoodyarn, suef, aliceq, thislittlepiggy, crisscross, archiphile, and (of course) feistyjess. Cower before our fierceness!

Monday, December 1, 2008

squishy squishy squishy

I just finished a cute cowl/neckwarmer/whatever for my stepdad. It's called the darkside cowl, and it is very alluring. It's so squishy and textural I just want to squeeze it!

My mods were minimal; I used the superbulky Cascade 109 tweed (on sale at WEBS) and size 10.5 needles, casting on 72 for a large man's size. For myself, I'd probably cast on 64. It was easy to finish in two evenings' knitting, so I'll probably be making some more for xmas gifts.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


I'm feeling all lustful over my new madelinetosh superwash merino sock yarn. It's all pink and lovely and begging to be made into toe-up bayerische socks. soon enough... soon...

Friday, November 28, 2008


I'm still wired from thanksgiving, even though i did most of the cooking and cleaning up, so why not talk about yarn? I just used up the last of my credit for making a cool lace coat, and most of it has gone for holiday knitting.

This lovely orange skein was quickly transformed into a cute hat for my brother's girlfriend. It's blue sky alpacas bulky handpaints in an extremely safe orange, 45 yards per skein. That means size 15 needles and about 2 sts per inch. I cast on 40 sts, did about 4 rounds of 1x1 ribbing, then knitted plain to about 5 inches. Next, I decreased by K6, K2tog to end, dividing it into five sections. I then did a plain row, repeating these two rows 3 times. I began decreasing every row until i had 5 sts. Most hats end at this point, but I continued with k2tog, k1, k2tog, leaving 3 sts. I did one round of i-cord, wove the tail through the loops, then passed it through the little nub and fastened off.

I think it turned out pretty cute, but I didn't have any yarn left to speak of. I can't guarantee that you'll get a hat out of one hank, but it was fun trying, and only took a few hours.

Pattern and photos © Sara Amoroso, 2008-2009. Permission is given for personal use only.
This pattern or items made from it may not be sold.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Just for the record, I haven't abandoned de-stashing. But yesterday an exuberant mood, sock inspiration, a long-lingering gift certificate, and a fair bit of luck combined to get me a great amount of yarn for very little cash.
First, I went to Northampton Wools. I had a $30 gift certificate from when I left my last job. I'd been in there before with the intent to spend it, but didn't find anything that grabbed me. However, this time I laid hands on some lovely Manos Silk Blend. The three skeins only cost me $31.20, because there's a sale going on. I paid the balance in quarters and dimes. My aunt has always loved Nothampton Wools, and it's a local legend, but I'm not as fond of it as others. I find that the people are a little chilly, and it encourages me to leave quickly when I do go in there. It's a shame, because it's a neat little place.

Still seeking sock yarn, I went down the street to WEBS, where their Valley Yarns (house brand) of Franklin sock yarn is my easy favorite. It's hand dyed by an employee, known as the "Kangaroo Dyer," and all the colorways are awesome. I thought I would get the "frog in a party dress" colorway, but ended up grabbing "miami vice" instead. It's going to become socks for a friend who, upon becoming an Army JAG, has to wear combat boots and digital desert fatigues every day. I'm hoping that a secret color riot on her feet will give her a psychological boost as she confronts what seems to be a rather difficult environment.

I also got a skein of Artyarns Ultramerino 4 in coloway 106. I'll be pairing this with some stashed purple Jawoll to make the Fred and George socks. I like the almost-the-same-but-not-quite aesthetic. The skein is mostly greens, with a little yellow, but the purple shots make me confident of a match.

But the greatest coup, by far, was courtesy of the Kangaroo Dyer, who, I will emphasize, is a lovely, generous, enthusiastic person. She spotted me snapping up the Franklin and we got into a conversation about her colors. She showed me some of her new experiments, including a really spring-timey one tentatively called "peeps." There was also a beautiful blue skein that was brighter than her other blue colors. She was showing me a new laceweight tencel, then gave me two skeins to try out! I can't believe it! I'm planning to make myself a Shetland Triangle because I was so sad to see the first one go, even to my mom. The yarn is so beautiful and soft, and it shines like silk. I'm so excited that I can hardly bear it. When I wound it this morning, it was very fine, and seemed quite strong.

On other fronts, I've finished one Rainbow sock, but will probably second-sock it for a while because I'm, once again, sick of Sockotta. The cotton content makes it a little joy-less to knit.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

snowflake socks, snow-ish day

My snowflake socks are finished and blocked. They were a treat to make with the new technique I've learned: double-fisted colorwork. One color is held continental style, and the other English. I usually have brain block with new techniques, and I need to think them through rather than working until I get it. As usual, something clicked on the second repeat of the pattern, and I was able to go very quickly, finishing in about a week. One thing I noticed is that previously, I never had problems with color dominance, but that my continental-held color is now going to be dominant, being looser than the English color. As long as I plan for it, that should be ok. A bonus is that the colors never get twisted or tangled, making any frogging (it was minor) very easy.

Project Details. Pattern: Snowflake Socks by Chrissy Gardinier, Interweave Knits Fall 2007. Yarn: Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport, 1 skein each of Aran and Eucalyptus. Needles, size 2 dpns. I would have done them on 2 circulars, but don't own the right equipment.

Next, I'm on to the Rainbow Socks by Suzanne Kitzmann. They're going quickly, but are truly strange. If you don't like short rows, don't attempt these socks. They look a little ugly now, but I think they'll shape up with blocking. Someone on Ravelry called hers "ugly ducklings" and I think that's exactly what these will be.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

on the difficulty of photographing one's own feet

Argyle socks are done! And socks are always the most difficult thing to photograph. They always look best on feet, and I usually take my pictures during the day, when the muddy winter light is at least present, if not flattering. That means I'm stuck trying to take pictures of my own feet. The easiest place to do this is the stairs, because that removes some of the contortions, and there's a window right at the bend where the stairs are widest. But my stairs also have horrible brown mottled carpets that look mostly inoffensive in person, but ghastly in pictures. I suppose I could drape them in something, but today I just ended up using my favorite photo background: the goosedown. It's puffy!

So for some project details, here goes. The pattern is Argyle Sock by Edie Eckman. It's put together as a lesson with clear and complete instruction. Despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth that seems to accompany argyle, I didn't find these that difficult. Of course, I did duplicate-stitch the lines. Knitting them in seems to increase the complexity by many fold. The yarn is Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport for the MC and CC, the lines are purple Dalegarn Baby Ull and Valley Yarns Franklin in cancun. Done on size 3 dpns and a short circular for the flat parts. I would not recommend this for anyone who doesn't like sewing in ends. Also, I might use a DK weight if I were to do these again. The fabric is certainly not a sturdy as my usual socks, but I imagine they'll hold up to normal wear. If not, they were quick and fun enough to make that I wouldn't cry to do it again.

Friday, February 1, 2008

scrapghan and minimitts

It seems that de-stashing is a popular goal at the beginning of the year. With minimal employment, it's also the most frugal way for me to go right now. Considering these goals, I've been working on the ubiquitous mitered-square afghan. It's working well for me, considering that I can't bear to throw out even some of the smallest yarn fragments left after a project. I like the idea of making something useful from them, even if some people find the idea tacky. I, for one, like at least paying lip service to the idea of being less wasteful. It's also fun to look at the squares and remember what you made from the originals. In fact, I can look at each square and tell you the content and original project for each yarn. I guess I'd be a little surprised if a knitter couldn't do that, though.

I have also been making some awesome mini-mittens. These, I feel, are the ultimate yarn-user-upper. Mere yards of yarn disappear into a cute little object of delight. Some people may find them fiddly and strange, but I think they will make fun christmas ornaments. With cats in the house, it's a good idea to have crash-proof decorations. It's also fun to put them on your fingers and go "eeee!" because they're cute. In my crazier moments, I plot how to knit them in the round. Maybe I'll make the thumbs out of i-cord next time, though... hmmm

Thursday, January 31, 2008

a new baby

Yesterday, my cousin Joshua's little girl Julia Grace was born! Apparently, it was a bit of a nail-biter at the end. They took her to the NICU afterward, but let her out within a few hours. Doesn't she look sweet... and tired! It's kinda funny, yesterday I was thinking "didn't they say she was due in January? It's hardly January any more..." Lo and behold, my uncle Ted called a few hours after that.

Though they didn't know it at the time, it seems that Julia is a family name. My Grandpop's parents were Hungarian immigrants living in Pennsylvania coal country. We knew that one of his younger sisters was killed at the age of four by a lightning strike. What we hadn't heard was that at some point, his mother took three or four of the children on a trip back to Hungary. They were delayed at Ellis Island on their return, and two died while they were stuck there. One of those was Julia. Another one of his brothers died during the War, when his hospital ship was torpedoed in the Pacific. Grandpop always told us a lot of stories about growing up, but we never heard about Ellis Island.

On a happier note, I have a really cute outfit to send to little Julia. It started with Elizabeth Zimmermann's February Baby Sweater. Then, I added Saartje's Bootees, which are incredibly sweet and easy to make (my mods here) To top it off, I made a little hat based on the jacket. It's almost sad to part with them, but I'm determined to send them off quickly; "little" Julia's actually 9lbs 8oz! This also means that the matching Tomten jacket will go to Duncan, another cousin's baby. I hope to make something for Mitchell this winter. He's got a cute hat, but the little guy needs a sweater, in my opinion.

Sweater details:
yarn: Araucania Nature Wool (currently on closeout at WEBS)
needles: size 6 straights and circulars
buttons: metal celtic-motif from webs. plastic for the booties.

Monday, January 28, 2008


My brother really wanted an argyle sweater for christmas. I chickened out and didn't make him one. I did, however cave to a fortuitous combination of queued pattern and stashed yarn. This argyle sock pattern is written for a sport weight yarn and I had quite a bit of it stashed from some a fair-isle folly a few years ago.

The details: the yarn is Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport for the main colors. The purple CC is Dalegarn Ull and the pink/orange CC is Valley Yarns Franklin. They're currently on size 3 dpns, but I used a short circular for the flat upper portion.

The intarsia and duplicate stitch are not the hard part of this project, but you need to be very precise in sewing the many seams with mattress stitch. That can be a little tedious. It's actually going surprisingly fast, and I'm looking forward to wearing them!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I'm quite proud of my new leftovers vest. No new yarn was purchased to make this somewhat eccentric fashion item. I set it aside for a while; as you can see, there are some (ahem) gauge discrepancies in the lower portion. However, they disappear when I'm wearing it, so I'm not one to fuss.

There is one issue, though: odor. My friend Janice, who gave me lots of yarn to use in this project, stores a lot of her things in mothballs. I let the yarn out-gas in my unheated hall closet, hoping the cold, fresh air would do it some good. (Yes, I know things evaporate better at higher temperatures, but it's winter!) It helped, but when I blocked it, the smell of mothballs wafted up from the sink, probably activated by the heat. I tried to neutralize the smell of naptha with a touch of fabric softener, but like the klutz I am, I dumped a bunch in. :( Now it smells a bit strongly of softener. I should rinse it again, but it took forever to dry, and I'm enjoying it (at short stretches) for now.

Friday, January 18, 2008

no end to ends

Yarn ends. I am subsumed. Hip-deep in it. I guess that's the danger of stripes, especially since those in the Leftovers vest are of so many colors. Normally I would carry the yarn up the side, but it's just not possible. Nothing to do but get down to it.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

angora, it's from bunnies!

And I have no idea what to do with it. I have five lovely, plump balls of Valeria di Roma Angora, shocking pink and 100% angora. What can I say, they were on sale at WEBS a while back. Now, this only equals 275.0 yards (251.5 m); not much yarn by any measure. It's so luscious and soft that I want it around my neck, but I can't find any sort of pattern that makes me happy. Should I just ransack Barbara Walker for a stitch pattern and make something up?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

wonky stripes

I'm working on my leftovers vest again, partly to finish, partly to give me some time to think about my next move with the somewhat cowl. This brings up a few thoughts on stripes and joins, which I've never been fastidious about. I've thought about doing the jogless join, but keep forgetting to do it and won't bother starting now. One problem I've had is looseness in the first stitch of the new color. I've unvented a method to deal with this, and I believe that it is, in the end, consistent with the EZ spirit of no knots.

When time comes for a new color change, I drop the old color, snip the end, and start up with the new. Once I've knit one round, I tie the two ends together in a square knot. Most of these have started to come undone after I've gone a few rows beyond, and that's good, because I intend to untie the rest of them and weave in the ends when I'm done. I think this keeps the seam a little more consistent, and I hope it will be quite smooth once I sew the ends in.