Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pretty - pretty heels

I've been reading blogs of other knitters and a common theme seems to be problems with short row heels. For some reason I have never had a heel problem which obviously means I lucked into finding a good technique right off the bat.

I knit socks toe up 90-95% of the time. My reasons are good for me and may not work for you. I knit with magic loop so any discussion to follow assumes the sock is in 2 halves (front and back).
I knit toe up because:

1. I do a good job at starting and having a nice smooth toe. My typical start is Judy's Magic Cast on My difference is I leave the cast on pretty loose. After I've knit several rows I'll go back and tighten up the loops. Works great every time.
2. I like my toe increases better than my decreases. When I increase I start the needle with knit 1 then on stitch 2 knit into front back of that stitch. At the end of the needle I do the knit front and back on the 3rd stitch from the end then knit the last 2. That puts the make 1 bump between st 2 & 3 on each end. This also give a bit of body on the 2 edges of the sock. Notice the make 1 stitches just blend in nice and pretty.
3. I can try on sock as I go for length and when it come to the gusset I use the knit front and back increase on the first stitch and the 2nd to last stitch.
4. The heel. I use Wendy Johnson basic set up for short row heels. Works like a charm. Check out the blue heel below. I dare you to find the short row stitches. Can you see any short row holes? Nope! We'll get back to how this heel is made in a moment.
5. The heel flap is done in the usual slip stitch manner. Once you get started its k-sl across till the last stitch of the heel (not counting the gusset stitches) and work an ssk. Coming back purl all stitches till the last one and p2tog. Nice neat flap and easy to do.
6. One of the main reasons I like to knit toe up. I never know how much yarn I'll end up with so toe up lets me knit until half the yarn is used up and then bind off. I don't end up a bit short on the second sock and I don't end up with a bunch of yarn leftover unless I choose to have a shorter sock.
7. The final and sometime most important reason - I have fat legs. So - why toe up socks? It lets me play around with the bind off to create a looser ending and therefore FIT MY LEG! The why I do this is simple. I generally end each sock with a bit of 2x2 rib. One the last row I add some stitches. They don't show when the sock is done but they give extra stretch so the bind off matches the rib stretch and doesn't pull in.
On the last row - k1 - m1 - k1 - p2 repeat all the way around. The bind off normal.

OK - back to the short row on the heel.
Right side - Knit across the heel stitches as indicated on your pattern: knit front & back of a st, Knit 1, wrap & turn
Wrong Side - Purl across the heel stitches as indicated: purl front & back of stitch, purl 1, Wrap & turn.
See any of Wendy Johnson's patterns for exact "when to knit".
Once you've done all the short rows you will knit the stitch and the wrap around it together. This closes up the short row space and it becomes invisible.
Cat Bordhi has another way to knit up the wrap stitches. She has been gracious enough to do videos of this technique so take a look at those to see her technique. Part 1. Part 2.

Other News

One Ravelry I've been busy adding some of my machine knitting projects. I'll post them on my next bog post but if you want to see them (in some pictures) head on over to Ravelry.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Don't cry because its over - Be happy that it happened.

This week would be my best friend's birthday but - sadly- she's no longer with us.
Back in 3rd grade I met Laurie. She lived nearby and seemed like a nice person. By 5th grade we were close friends and stayed that way "forever". Junior High we wrote notes to each other during classes and spent many evenings at each others house. We were in swimming together and had to get the same bike - a boy's black 3 speed. Quite the fancy bike back then.

High school she went to Grandma's at Florida with us and made new friends.

Laurie was friend to everyone she met.
Our group in high school became a close knit group who stayed together to this day.
Senior skip day - Laurie on bottom, me on top

Laurie loved to dress up. Our group would have 1 or 2 costume parties a year. Our Wizard of Oz party had Laurie as the Scarecrow, and me as the Cowardly Lion.

For the Bicentennial she made proper outfits.

But her best costume was made for her wedding. Her 2 sisters and myself found a material we liked for our dresses and refused to look at anything else. She was beautiful.
Over the years Laurie allowed us to enjoy her many talents.

The last several years we became travel buddies and there was always one constant -
She always wore the same t-shirt on our trips. Whether we were in England orChicago

or San Diego or in the Black Hills area

the Africa/zebra t-shirt was there.
I just wish Laurie were here to celebrate her birthday this week.
Don't cry because its over
Be happy that it happened! - Dr Seuss

Saturday, May 23, 2009

She's an energizer bunny

Today was the baby shower for cousin (actually first cousin once removed, sadly I understand the whole first/second cousin thing). My cousin (Grandma-to-be) is also a knitter. I think from the second she heard the news she started knitting and sewing and didn't stop until 2 minutes before the shower. She made 3 sweaters - one with a bonnet and booties, an afghan, hooded wash blanket, quilt,burp cloth, sewed a tag ball and tag blankie, and I know I'm forgetting much more. Cousin lives in Arizona over the winter as they retired a few years back. All this knitting and quilting from her makes me very anxious to hit the day when I can happily retire and concentrate on the important things like knitting and quilting. Until then I'll just have to be happy with the time I have and not be jealous of my cousin - the energizer bunny of knitting. (Hi Coz! I found out she reads this.)
My knitting for the shower I've talked about without showing many pictures. But Mom-to-be now has the presents so I can show them without wondering if the wrong person see them.
First up - the teddy bear. He came from a Knitting magazine a few months back and the second I saw this cute little gut in his onsie I had to make it. He (or is it a she with the ruffled front) lived around here flat until last week when he got stuffed and ready for his new home. Once he was stuffed I decided he needed a patch on the knee. He's made from Woolease so he'll be strong but washable, babies need that.
Next present - The Hot Pink Sweater.
I love this sweater. The yarn is a nylon ribbon thread Louisa Harding no longer available) with a bit of a shine to it. The pattern is from the Drops website - one of their free ones. I love that web site for find all sorts of nice patterns.
I like the lace border, it's nice without being too delicate. The white buttons are from my Mom's button stash so she could be a part of the present too. Mom absolutely adored babies and children. She would have been all over a new baby coming into the family.

So - the rest of the weekend? This is stacking up to be a good weekend. Last night was a fire pit gathering at a friends house. Today was the baby shower with family. Sunday is a picnic at a friend's house and Monday is a bit of yard work. I took off Tuesday & Wednesday and plan to pretend to go to work. I'll get up regular time (well, maybe a bit later) and head up to the other house to work on it. Work 4 hours - take a lunch break - work 4 hours and call it a day. I NEED to get serious about getting that house ready to get off my hands.

Have a great weekend!

(For some reason the spacing is way off - I've added 2 lines between each paragraph on the top and they still - stick together).

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

And That's Why I Moved Home

Back about 5 years ago I told my parents when they decided to move to an apartment I wanted to buy their house. I wanted to live in a neighborhood where people knew each other and cared for each other and not just a house on a block. Dad and I worked out a deal but, unfortunately, before they could move he had some severe memory problems and I had to move him into memory care and Mom into an assisted living apartment within walking distance. I still got the house - just not quite the happy way we all planned on.

This is a neighborhood - a great neighborhood. We were even highlighted one year for the national night out. Mom was written up as the cookie lady. I really like my neighborhood.

Last night I got home and changed clothes to go out and mow the lawn. As I was putting my hair into pigtails (because there's nothing better looking than a 50+ person in pigtails). Anyway- the door bell rang.

Visitor #1: It was Younger sister of an old friend. YS grew up the street behind and when her Dad left with my friend, YS and Mom stayed. When her Mom died YS bought the house. YS and hubby were out walking and saw my garage door up so stopped to say HI and offer to help with the lawn mowing (for $20-30). I let them know they caught me getting ready to go out and mow the lawn but thanks anyway. Before they left their neighbor was walking up the street.

Visitor #2: Fix-it guy was just walking and stopped to say HI. Gave me one of his fix-it cards and offered to mow the lawn. No mention of $$ but I'm sure that was in his mind. YS & fix-it guy left and I got the pigtail thing going and went out to mow. Oh - did I mention the yard is kind of long as in one step from needing sheep to get it cut.

So there I was out mowing the lawn in what turned out to be the hottest day so far. Sweat dripped from my brow (and my pigtails) and Greek guy from next door came out to say HI.

Visitor #3: Greek guy was about 8 or so when the family moved next door. I was late high school or college - I can't remember. So I've known him a long time. Recently he lost his job cause the of economy and moved home to help his parents and save money. We talked for a while and during the conversation he said he'll be glad to mow my lawn when he did his folks, it would be easy. That's what neighbors are for. After all my folks did so much for his family...... I said I needed the exercise but thanks. After a bit more talking his Mom came out.

Visitor #4: They are a VERY Greek family. Just like in "My big fat Greek wedding". Many of the family moved to the neighborhood over the years and all the neighborhood is somehow considered their family too. Greek Mom tells Greek guy to finish my lawn. It's not right for a lady to have to do her lawn. It was hard to convince her it was OK and GG already offered. So she went inside and GG left. I finished the front yard and came in very sweaty. Figured I'd do the back yard the next day.

Today - I came home ready to sweat again because today is actually hotter than yesterday. The back yard is all mowed and GG was just finishing up. "No problem. I was mowing ours today anyway." (He doesn't lie very well. Their yard was done last weekend. He was just doing my yard because he's a great neighbor)

That's the neighborhood I live in. Everyone watches out for everyone else. Many of us are long term neighbors or second generation neighbors. We have a couple jobs available at work. Not great jobs but better than the 2 part time jobs he's having to work right now. I'm going to do what I can to get GG a job. After all - he's my neighbor! That's what we do around here. And that's why I moved home!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Fiber Critter Fest

This weekend is the Shepherd's Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival in Washington County just outside St Paul. I decided to take my friend/knitting student (A) along and another friend's sister (J) who has some special needs - physical and mental. I thought J would enjoy seeing fiber critters and how yarn was made and A just needed a nice little distraction from her hectic life.

The weather was a bit cool but better than last year when it rained and left the parking areas very muddy. We got to the first building and J pooped out half way through. While she was resting on a chair A and I walked around to the other aisle and found a lady sitting their spinning. Not a big deal cause - well - its a fiber festival. There will be a lot of spinners. But the fiber in her lap was a bit different.

The fiber moved. She was spinning directly from the angora bunny! The hair she 'pulls' is the loose hair that would normally come off when the bunny is brushed and he obviously didn't mind it. The bunny sat in her lap very happy the whole time we watched. We brought J over to the bunny and she got the spinner to stop so she could feel the yarn on the bobbin.
After finishing up the first building we headed over to see some sheep sheared. Unfortunately, we got there just as the sheep was finished. Once done they let kids pet the sheep and were very good to J and let her pet the sheep too. She got a bit of the fresh fleece so was very happy. But - what made her even more happy....
They brought out another sheep and sheared it. It only took about 4-5 minutes and that sheep was all ready to go. The pile of fleece behind them is the bad bits. As they finished the fleece they did a little bit of skirting to pick off the worst of the bits and piled the fleece on the table with the others they had done today. Lots of fleece waiting to become sweaters!
Just behind the sheep shearing were a couple llamas hanging out getting a bit of fresh air So - J got to pet the llamas without having to walk over to their barn which was a bit too far for her. Looks like they had already had a bit of a hair cut!

All told it was a nice few hours. J had to stop and sit several times and got cranky a couple times but over all she enjoyed it. A got a chance to just walk around and see new things and see where her yarn comes from. And me - I managed NOT to spend a boatload of money and just enjoy the day through them. I did learn an important thing. Being a person with limited mental abilities can be a huge advantage. J would go up to people and want to pet the sheep, get a bit of fleece, stop the spinning wheel to see what the yarn felt like and everyone was very happy to let her do what she wanted. As a result, we got to see and do some things I would have been "too grown up" to ask for. So- I had more fun than I would if I went alone. Lesson learned - don't be afraid to be a kid when it comes to asking questions about things you don't know about.
All the pictures on today's blog were taken on my my cell phone. I'm impressed with the quality indoor and outdoor seem to be pretty good. My old phone was needing to be charged every night and the cost of a battery was about the same as the cost of a new phone with all my discounts. I have issues with the old phone - a blackberry with the teeny tiny keyboard that I can't see without my reading glasses. So - I got a new one. My new phone is a LG Incite. It's a touch screen, has windows mobile and all sorts of fun new features that will take me forever to learn but - the camera... easy to use and download to the computer. I like it!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Lots of Knitting - No pictures

Knitting is happening around here - just no picture taking. I'll get them shortly but - here's what's been on the needles....

Teddy Bear.
Simply Knitting had the cutest teddy bear a few month's ago. I saw it and HAD to make it. He is wearing a onesie and has a collar and ruffle going down the front. My cousin's daughter is having the first baby of the next generation so - the bear got made and I'm all excited for the end of May to come and the baby shower. He's made of Woolease so he can be washed.

Hot Pink Baby.
Also for the baby (its a girl). I made a cute little cardigan in Louisa Harding Fauve. The bottom is lace and it should fit this fall.

Tree of Life Afghan.
The afghan is about 1/3 done made out of Woolease- natural color. The second section is supposed to be flower but I found them terrible to make. It was supposed to be 4 repeats but after 3 I decided to stop and look for another design to knit for a smaller section. Definitely need to save my sanity. The afghan is in time out while I hunt up a new design for about 40 rows.

Opal Circus Socks.
These are my traveling socks. They've been to the doctor's office with Dad, friends house for the Oscars, knit night, and around town. I haven't worked on them at home and so they haven't gotten too far. I'm starting to get sick of pulling them out of the knit bag so it's time to concentrate on finishing these up. I've got 2 inches left on the cuff of the first one and may put them into time out for the 2nd while I knit some socks in cotton for summer. These are Opal Zirkus-wool.

Icelandic Shawl.
Almost done. This shawl is Knit Picks Skimmer and right now looks like a blob. I have 10 rows of the border and then this puppy gets blocked like mad!

Finally, The Mitered Sock Squares- it's not a blankie- project.
As I add more and more mitered squares this looks more and more like its becoming a blankie but I still firmly believe it wants to be something else. It hasn't told me yet but, I'm patient. It will tell me when its ready.

Like I said - lots of knitting- no pictures. I need to get the camera out and get a few new pictures to show off all this work. Maybe tomorrow.