The Geeky Knitter Shops

It all began with an innocent perusal of the July/August 2009 Piecework issue. All was fine until I reached page 6.  There, in all its glory, was an ad from Lacis for mini-hooks.    I have one of these sawed-off beauties for picking up dropped stitches when sock knitting.  It can be a life-saver for lace knitting, too.

This ad caught my eye because it offered 16 sizes from 00-14. (If these numbers don’t make sense to you, see this handy size chart that compares crochet hooks and knitting needle sizes, and also gives their mm.) Any of you who have tried placing seed beads on lace weight yarn with a crochet hook know the desirability of steel crochet hooks in the 11-14 range.  It takes a hook that small to fit through the beads.  The other notable fact about these hooks is that in today’s craft store/big box store environment they are scarce as hen’s teeth.

Lacis offeres free shipping for on-line orders, with a flat $4.50 handling charge/order.  It seemed to me that my most economical move would be to place a complete order now, rather than piece-meal it out.  They’ll be sending me sizes 11-14.  Oh, and I bought the lobster claw clasp that will corral them all on my chatalaine.  Who said a knitting geek couldn’t be an old-fashioned gal?

Ooh, a package!

Recently Margene at Zeneedle had a comment contest in which she marked the even hundreds of comments as the total approached 50,000.  That’s a lot of blogging/reading/commenting!  I was fortunate enough to be one of the winners.

Then sadness entered the blog, as Margene posted a brief note that tragedy had come to her family, and she’d be back after a while.  We could only pray for God to hold her family in his arms. When Margene was ready to blog about the tragedy, we learned that her great-niece, Charlotte, had died at the very tender age of 15 months.

Life trumps blogs, folks, and in such sad circumstances I expected the contest to be canceled.  Yet Margene values her friends, and sent an email that she would be shipping my prize shortly. She had inquired about my favorite colors and treats.  (Never met a blue or green I didn’t love.  Treat = tea, and here I don’t care for green – go figure!)   Yesterday it arrived!

LSU is playing in the College World Series, so my description may sound a bit like play-by-play.  That’s a three-base hit, Bob.  On first base is Soft Spun, out of Brooklyn Handspun.  It’s wearing the team colors “Winter’s Welcome”, blue/green/white. This is one cushy yarn, and the fans just love it!

On second base is Tarajulie, a strong slugger of black tea.  Tarajulie’s hitting record is for a nice, heavy-bodied, malty, sweet cup of tea.

On third base, waiting to steal home and the hearts of the fans, is Sunshine.  This soap is from blessed juno, and is a real star of the team with essential oils of orange, tangerine, lemon, lime, and litsea cubeba.  Sunshine is superfatted with shea butter, and can throw as well as bat.

Thank you, Margene, for such a lovely prize package.  My cats were fascinated with the soap fragrance, by the way.  I forsee much hand washing, followed by kitty hand washing.

Oh, did you miss the game last night?  I now have only 12 rows to go on the two-color section of Ulmus, and LSU has one game to go to be the College World Series champ.   Second game tonight – knit on!

Who, me?

Yes, I know I’ve been unusually quiet.  I’ve been over here, on the sofa, knitting.  For the record, the Easter Monkey socks are done.  I won’t bore you with another picture…it looks just like the first one. . . and that’s good.

Unfortunately, for my total number of projects, I continued to read blogs.  Oh, the wonderful things my friends are knitting.  I succumbed to Ulmus, by Kirsten Kapur.  Choosing the yarn for this shawl required two day’s research.  I read all the Ravelry’s KAL posts, saw everyone’s color choices, and diligently searched the on-line yarn shops.  As is often the case, I fell in love with one color, Persia. Then the difficulty was finding a contrasting color to play second-fiddle.  I finally settled on Indiecita, the color the designer used for background/lace in her example. It looks much “bluer” in person.

I had to order from two yarn shops to get these two colors.  Both shipped promptly, but while I waited… from my closet came this small, sock-yarn voice, “Pick me!  Pick me!”  It was the Down Home Art Yarns Sock, in Riverbed, by Ray at knitivity. (Click the link for his excellent colorway photo.)  I personally think of this colorway as “Siamese Cat”.  It was purchased as Ray began again after Hurricane Ike, and has been waiting, patiently, for just the right pattern.  (You’ll have to humor us in Louisiana.  We tend to tell time by hurricanes.)   Let me just say that I love Ray’s yarns, and wholeheartedly recommend them to you.

The KAL spoke of colorwheel oposites, so I tried some Lorna’s Laces butterscotch, orange across from blue.  It wasn’t a pretty picture, dear readers; you’ll not have to look upon that combination.  Frogged! Then I remembered the generous skein of Knit Picks Bare in my sock yarn stash.  It played nice, indeed. As of last night, my Ulmus has 22 ever-increasing rows until I get to play with the lace section.  I’m happy!

The collective wisdom of the Ulmus KAL is that you can’t knit just one.  I do plan to knit the Malabrigo yarn, just as soon as this one is off my needles.  After all, this is my first Malabrigo!

The Easter Monkey

I’ve taken a fancy to the Easter Monkey.  No candy or eggs were involved.  There wasn’t even any fake grass!

Actually, I cast on a pair of Monkeys between services on the Second Sunday of Easter.  (For my friends who belong to non-liturgical churches, Easter is a season of the church year, and runs until Pentecost.)  The yarn is Morandia’s MIB Fibers in “Close to Pastel”, purchased from the Knitting Asylum.

I was struck by how much they looked like an Easter confection.  They were, from early on in the first cuff, my Easter Monkeys.

The first sock was finished before our Disney vacation.  The second sock has languished, partly due to the fact that this is my third pair of Monkeys. (One other pair for me, one given as a gift.) The novelty has worn off, even more than one might expect on the second sock.  I have made progress since vacation, though:  the cuff, heel, and gusset are completed now.  There’s nothing left but racing (crawling?) for the toe.

Monkeys tend to be a bit snug on the foot for me in the 64-stitch cast on, but that size is dandy for the cuff.  I have developed a technique for expanding the foot that I’d like to share with you.  When I decrease the gusset stitches, I don’t take the heel side of the sock all the way back down to the original count (32 stitches in the case of a 64 stitch cast on).  If I decrease to 36 stitches for the sole and 32 stitches on the instep needle I get the extra room needed for my bunion.  When the sock is long enough, I do a decrease round on the sole needle only, a plain round, and another sole decrease, and one more plain round before I begin my standard toe.  The finished product looks like a proper sock, and fits so much better.

The Monkeys get to go in the car with me, while the larger sweater projects remain behind.  They went to Knit Night at the Asylum last Thursday, and the admiration they received encouraged some knit progress.  I’ll take them to my eye appointment this afternoon.  Perhaps I should get out more, if I want to finish these socks.

Knitting appreciated

I have read many a sad story about a knit gift being scorned by the recipient.  Many knitters have crossed whole groups of relatives off their “knit for” lists.  Perhaps you’re ready to hear a story with a different outcome.

Earlier posts told the story about the baby I’ve called Emmanuel.   (more about the name in a moment)  He was born March 14th, at 2 lbs., 8.8 oz and 15 inches.  Sunday was his first day in church, the first time for us to hear his cry…more a mew.  The white baby blanket I showed you on May 4th  was knit for him.

Today I received a thank-you note from the family, stating ” Thank you so much for the wonderful blanket.  I know that we will cherrish it for a lifetime.”  There was a baby picture included, with his name – spelled Immanuel.

After all the knitting rejections, that note made my day.  I thought it might brighten yours too.  Happy knitting!

At Sea for Pentecost

Yesterday was Pentecost, the day the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples, and the birthday of the Christian church.  We had a lovely service, marked by the first attendance of baby Emmanuel (the premie I knit a white blanket for).

At home, I decided to mark the day by doing something different.  I put aside the two sweaters I’m knitting for moi, and worked on a scarf for Christmas at Sea.  Last year I knit scarf and cap sets for them as I traveled in the car.  This year I’m not on the road every weekend (whew!), and have to make an effort to keep my charity knitting in the schedule.  This weekend, to show for my renewed efforts, I completed a long-ignored cap which went with a scarf that was done.  I also cast on and knit 2/3 of a scarf for a new set.  I’m feeling so productive!

The Knit Before Christmas, their newsletter for 2009, arrived this week and prompted me back into action.  You’ll want to go take a look, because there are several neat patterns included for using up scrap yarn.

In addition, there is a project for sending personal care items that non-knitters could help with, too.  DH and I are buying the items a bit at a time, to have a packet to go with each knit gift by shipping time.  He was very helpful at finding a hypoalergenic, non-scented hand lotion as our first purchase.  DH is taller than I, and has the useful talents of being able to read fine print higher than I can, and then being able to actually reach the bottles.   I just love my tall, handsome hubby!

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