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Why, Hello There!

Thanks so much for visiting my blog. I'm glad you're here, but sorry to say this site is no longer updated. For all my latest knitting hi jinks, please stop by my new blog www.myzigzagstitch.com.

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hello, i have news

April 27, 2009

The dreaded blog silence. The longer you wait to post, the harder it becomes. After two heart sweaters (i heart you, i heart you more), I lost my inclination to do any substantial knitting at all. And that is just crazy.

There has been lots of behind-the-scenes work going on. Getting ready to publish the I Heart You sweater…preparing for classes…other things I will tell you more about soon…

The end of the school year is busy, too, isn’t it?  And then there’s the garden! And Spring! And sunshine! And green grass! And pollen! And Noro Kureyon Sock!

Noro Kureyon Sock

We went to Atlanta a few weeks ago during Jerry’s spring break. It was very last minute (booked the room the night before) but at least I remembered to print out directions to get from the hotel to the yarn store. I went to Knitch and it was absolutely divine. I bought that Kureyon Sock pictured above (and needles in order to cast on right away) and some Socks That Rock midweight (my first STR).

I have many ways of analyzing yarn stores, and this one hit all the right notes. Fantastic selection of yarn. Good, basic wool in many colors. Friendly folks. Peaceful.

Best yarn store ever?

I can say without a doubt it is my favorite yarn store in the world. It is a must-see if you’re in or near Atlanta.  I also recommend going to a Braves game and heading to the World of Coca-Cola. Centennial Olympic Park was fun for the fountains, but seems oddly out of date.

Now for the news…

zigzagszigzag study hall: fingerless mitts (on Rav)

I’m teaching at SAFF!  I will be teaching a 3-hour Stranded Knitting for Beginners class – you can find a registration link on the workshop page here. We will be knitting the Zigzag Study Hall Mitts, and learning to knit colorwork with both hands – one strand of yarn in each hand – on DPNs.

SAFF this year is Friday, October 23rd to Sunday, October 25th in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina – during peak leaf season. My class is scheduled for Friday morning. I hope to see you there!!

inside out

April 6, 2009

I’m sorry that I keep posting about this damn hearts sweater.  To be honest, it’s all I’m knitting on and all I’m thinking about.  Haven’t tired of it yet.

inside out

I’m sewing the ends in this version, which is why the sweater is inside out, and that got me to thinking about something I always think about when sewing in ends.

Have you ever watched the DVD of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitting Workshop (much scrolling required)? She spends a bit of time talking about finishing your sweater very neatly in order to be able to wear it inside out.

Are you kidding me?!?!?

No, she’s not kidding. I’ve never done it*, and I think I have a long way to go before my finishing would be so good to flip a finished sweater to the wrong side.  But seriously, if you get it out of your head that it’s the wrong side the other side is just as fascinating. Maybe even prettier than the right side.  That is, if you can get over it being the wrong side.

Marinate on that for a bit. I’ll be over here full of hearts for the foreseeable future.

*I knit a stripey hat that I wear inside out; reverse stockinette in stripes is just about the easiest way to make knitting look more complicated than it is. Not brave enough yet to wear a whole sweater inside out.

red white and blues

March 31, 2009

born in the USA

After much consideration (and math), I have decided to make the I Heart You sweater for child sizes only.  I apologize if I told you otherwise, but the design would have needed to be altered so much to be flattering for women. Thank you, Anne, for helping me see the light. I would have been writing two separate patterns.

The sizes will range from age 2 to 16.  Or, since kids vary so much, for a chest circumference of 20″ to 32″.

I’m working on an alternate version with some Lanaloft Sports Weight (sleeves first).  The red white & blue (tempered a bit with some Carolina Blue – Go Heels!) is so very patriotic and I so love it.  Lanaloft and Nature Spun are both awesome sport weight yarns from Brown Sheep.  Have you tried them yet?  I’m in the middle of deep infatuation with them both – even more so because they are made right here in the USA.  Lanaloft is a singles and the Nature Spun is plied.  Both knit up wonderfully.

You’d think I work for Brown Sheep.  But in fact, I do not.

hearts, finished

March 21, 2009

Hi there.  I finished the heart sweater for Maggie.

i heart you

I feel like a knitting Superwoman, because it turned out just exactly how I envisioned it.  Perfect in (nearly) every way.

i heart you

I hesitate to point out the imperfect things, but I will for posterity.  The sleeves could use about 8 more sts at the top.  They are very snug, and I need to manhandle them to get her arms through.

i heart you

The other thing is that I don’t think she’s really keen on that turtleneck.  Unfortunately for her, it’s not about what she thinks.  It’s about what I think and I think it’s awesome.

On to the perfect things.

I had an intense level of patience with this knit.  I ripped it back in various spots four (five, maybe?) times; I’m proud of myself for sticking with it for all that knitting, ripping, reknitting, reripping.  I really wanted to see this little thing through to completion.

The colors!  I love the bright hearts, and I love how the color changes produce wide stripes.  I hadn’t expected that.  Funny thing about the colors – the yarn store only stocks these bright hues.  I bought one of each (and a bunch of heather brown) and went to town.

The fit is slim, but long enough that maybe she’ll wear it next year?  With the tight sleeves, maybe not.  Kids have big bellies and teeny tiny arms.  I’m hopeful.

Sometimes yoke sweaters pucker, and although I accept that (see October sweater – slight puckering) I was really pleased that the puckers are non-existent here.  I wish I had a better idea of why the yoke is so flat.  Perhaps because the first decrease is placed so soon after joining?  I will be experimenting with this idea.

i heart you

I am writing the pattern; other folks are loving this sweater as much as I do.  The pattern will include sleeves that aren’t too snug, but I’m not doing anything about that turtleneck.  It is much too cool.  I’m considering including adult sizes.  Any interest in that?

Check it on Ravelry (my project).
Queue it on Ravelry (the pattern page, for when it’s ready).

(Just a thought on that pic of Maggie running.  I love it more than most any picture I have taken of her, ever.  It’s funny, because you can’t see her face.  But I think it’s because it really, really shows my true Maggie: running, exuberant, messy hair.  I heart you, baby.)

i heart you

March 14, 2009

I’m working on a new sweater for Maggie.  It looked like this a few days ago:

rainbow hearts

At first I thought it would be a vest, but then I started knitting sleeves.  It was strange how I just started knitting them without really thinking it all through.

But it’s all coming along nicely.  I don’t have a firm plan for the yoke decreases.  I have joined the sleeves in and I’m knitting one stripe of navy blue hearts before I make any decisions.  I’ve done a fair bit of knitting then unraveling, knitting then unraveling, ad nauseum.  I am fully prepared to knit the yoke to completion then unraveling it to make it right.

I’ve got Spun Out #4 – Child’s Yoke Sweater from Schoolhouse Press as a guide.  Did you know that all those Spun Out designs are only $1 (besides the BSJ, which is understandable).  What a deal!  I ordered a bunch of them a few weeks ago and I think maybe I should order the rest.

This yoke obsession that I’m feeling is inspired by two things.  One, I’m going to teach a class on how to knit a “custom pullover for your kid” at my LYS, so I need to make sure I’m on the ball with these EZ patterns.  And two, surely you’ve seen the new design  Paper Dolls by Kate at Needled.  First the owls, and now paper dolls?  I am super excited to see what she does next.

yoke baby

That’s where I am now, knitting straight before any big decreasing decisions.  The rain outside pretty much guarantees that there will be yoke action today.  Yay!

requested sweater

March 1, 2009

Jerry asked for a sweater.  Even though he is the warmest boy in world, braving the coldest days in a t-shirt and shorts if I would let him, I am knitting him a sweater.  Without really thinking the whole thing through, I’m knitting it out of worsted weight Cascade 220, which makes for a Very Warm Sweater.

requested sweater - front

After I snapped this picture, I crocheted the steeks, cut the tiny neck steek in order for the whole thing to lay flat, and blocked it.  Yesterday was rainy, today is rainy/icy/snowy/all around wet, and so I will have to wait (and wait and wait) for it to dry before I get back to it.  Sad.

I do not have high hopes that it will be worn very much.  In that sense, this is  a process sweater; the fun comes in designing and executing.  And what fun it is!

I’m making it big so it may have a chance next winter.  I’m making it will skulls, which increases it’s wearability potential.  I am even duplicate stitching green skull eyes (at the boy’s request), to up the ante even more.

The design is my own. I started with a swatch.

progress

The first design looked good on paper (the large silly bottom skulls) and looked horrible once knitted.  Then I took a break from it for a few weeks and came back with the new, argyle-insprired skulls at the top.  I like it a lot.

I have a feeling Jerry will like it, too. He has a thing for skulls:

DSC08490

Even if he wears it only once, how could I NOT knit this cutie pie a sweater?

How to do it: Darn Socks

February 26, 2009

When I posted the poll about sock darning, 37% of respondents said they keep their holey socks stuffed at the back of the drawer because they don’t know how to darn.  I used to do the same with my handknit socks. But now I’m a darning maniac. You can be one, too.  It’ll be awesome.

large hole in handknit sock

The socks I am mending today are an odd choice.  They are EZ’s Moccasin Socks; it would be ideal to re-sole them completely instead of repairing the hole.  But because I am a darning maniac these are the last of my holey socks.  Besides, a hole is a hole is a hole.

Gather your supplies.

  • Holey sock.
  • Matching leftover sock yarn.  If you no longer have any leftovers, choose a close match.
  • Long darning needle, blunt tip if possible.
  • Scissors.
  • Darning egg or mushroom. As you can see, I do not own a tool specifically for darning.  I have used a softball but this plastic football is my current favorite.  You could also try a lightbulb, or a baseball, or anything round with a hard surface.

tools for darning

Before you begin darning, turn the sock inside out and pull off any fuzz balls that are in the sock.

inside out - get out the fuzzies

Begin now.

Turn the sock right side out again.  We’re going to darn from the right side.  With 3 or 4 yards of matching yarn (I’m using contrasting yarn so you can see what I’m doing), thread your darning needle.  The thread should be double — the needle is at the center, and the ends of the threads meet.

oops, missed one

A very long thread is used because the darn will be stronger if you have fewer breaks in the yarn.  Ideally, you would mend the entire hole with one length of yarn.

Insert your darning football, er, mushroom.

insert your "darning football"

Pull the sock tight, and center the hole over your darning tool.  Hold it with your non-sewing hand at the back.

how to hold while you darn

And here we are ready to begin.

darning football

The patch of darning will go beyond the edges of the hole, and it will be square (my personal preference – round is good, too).  Begin by sewing the needle through the knitted fabric in a running stitch.

how to put the needle in

Pull the thread through, leaving just 1/2″ – 1″ of a tail.  This will be trimmed later.  Insert the needle again, parallel and close to the first line of stitches, and work back down over the hole.

just the beginning

Continue in this manner, working up and down over the hole.

back and forth...

At the edges of the hole, the knitted fabric is very thin.  Keep this flap of fabric on the outside of the work by keeping the sewing needle under it as you prepare to cover the distance of the hole.  Like this:

keep the edge of the hole to the outside

Continue until these parallel running stitches completely cover the hole.

step one complete

Now sew the running stitches perpendicular to the first stitches.  I have changed my thread, but that is only for demonstration.  You will continue on with the same length of thread.

ready to weave

Continue back and forth, weaving the running stitch up and down through the fabric.

starting the perpendicular weaving

When you come to the hole, with no knitted fabric to sew through, weave the yarn over and under the threads that cover the hole.

beginning to weave over the hole

I never knew it, but when you darn a sock, you’re creating a woven patch to cover the hole.  Simple, really.

darning is weaving

When you’ve covered the hole with weaving, you’re done!  Well, almost.

darning complete!

All that’s left to do is neaten things up.  With scissors, trim the flap of fabric close to the work.

trimming the flap

Also trim the ends of thread close to the work.

trimming the extra yarn

Now you really are done!

darning complete - outside view

Admittedly, a darn is not the prettiest thing, especially in my garish colors here.  But the point is that a sock on the foot is a hundred times better than a sock at the back of your drawer.

A few thoughts.

  • Using a doubled thread is optional.  I prefer it because the repair is Very Strong.  Stronger than the original sock, in fact.
  • Darning a big hole takes about 30 minutes.  A smaller hole will take less time to mend.
  • You can use this same method to reinforce a weak spot even before a hole appears.
  • After wearing your mended socks the patch will begin to felt together.  It will even out and look pretty.  I promise.

RS or WS?

When you darn from the right side, the wrong of the sock is very, very neat and tidy.  Much prettier than the right side.

darning complete - inside view

Then why do we darn from the right side?  Wouldn’t we rather have the lovely, smooth surface on the outside?  No.  The smoothness of the inside is perfect for next-to-skin wear, and the outside will soon mat down with wear.

On the other hand, if a few bumps on the inside of the sock don’t bother you, then by all means, darn from the WS.

Thanks

Big shout out to my mother-in-law, Noreen, for teaching me how to do this.  Also, I should thank Cindy for bringing up the whole darning issue in the first place.

And dudes, in the poll I mentioned at the beginning,  33% of respondents answered the question “Do you darn socks” with , “Yes, of course I darn.  Doesn’t everybody?”  That made me pretty happy.  If you are an experienced darner, I’d love your input!

Phew, a whole post about mending socks with not a single “darn” pun.  Score!