Archive for the “gloves” Category

Once again, I visited my sworn-sister the Knitting Ninja (along with a bunch of other friends) in her hometown of Ottawa for the annual Winterlude festivities. In addition to the usual things we do there – eat stew at the cook-off, drink lots of beer, buy fancy cheeses and make a meal of them, watch the Super Bowl – we visited two yarn stores.

Our first stop was the new Yarns Etc., where I acquired a skein of Cascade Heritage Paints in the understated blues and grays “Thunder” colourway. Understated blues and grays… if you’ve been following along for a while, you may have guessed that this is going to be socks for Michael. (And if you haven’t, now you know!) I have no idea when I’m going to get to them, and first he has to tell me where the last pair of socks could fit better, but eventually there will be a new pair of plain ribbed socks for him.

Since it was within blocks of our hotel, we walked down to Yarn Forward. Last year I’d gotten two skeins of Lang Merino 120, a smooth DK weight superwash yarn, in black. This year I supplemented them with three more skeins, one each of cream, green, and blue-ish. The colours aren’t exactly wintery, but somehow they remind me of winter. Blue and green are more springlike, but with the cream in there they make me think of ice. So I’m thinking of designing a Winterlude-inspired hat and armwarmers set to be my very first for-sale patterns.

To that end, I wandered around the ice sculptures in Confederation Park looking at, and sneaking pictures of, people’s hats. There was lots of inspiration to be found, since of course in February in Ottawa it’s cold enough for nearly everyone to be wearing a hat, and many of them are hand-knit.

Many of them also have earflaps, which was my motivation last year to knit the hat that I didn’t want to buy. I finished sewing the lining into my Winterlude Hat(tm) just a day before leaving, and got the cords in with some help from Pirate-Husband, and was quite pleased with how warm it was while I traipsed around Ottawa. There are a couple of things that I would change, if I were to be making it again: first, I’d make the earflaps wider. They are wider than my ears, but still let wind in unless I tied the cords under my chin. And second, I’d make the lining a teensy bit larger, because it felt as if the hat kept riding up on my head unless I tied the cords under my chin. So third, I’d make the cords a couple of inches longer, because it was hard to tie them while wearing gloves. Even without those things, I absolutely love my new hat. Wearing something made of yarn I spun myself is so gratifying! The polar fleece lining kept me from having a terrible case of hat hair, which is definitely a good thing. (I know I’m squinty in this picture. It was very bright out.)

Speaking of gloves, there’s another finger to repair on my Fleeps. They still kept my hands warm, though I can definitely feel that they’re getting thin. Maybe I can wear them for another year, but then it will be time to make another pair for myself. Meanwhile, Michael’s new Fleeps made their debut and did their job wonderfully. He says he’s going to show them off to everyone, and I totally believe him. The magnet-snaps that I sewed in are seriously awesome. My next pair will definitely have those included.

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Last weekend I finally sewed the magnetic snaps to Michael’s gloves, but there were problems… First I sewed the snaps directly to the gloves. That seemed fine while I was doing it, but in reality when I tested them, there was too much pull on the knitted fabric. So I added wool felt reinforcements to the wrist snaps, but because I haven’t got an instinctive feel for sewing the way I do for knitting, I put them on the outside of the cuffs, between the snaps and the knitting (and then I took a picture, so you can see here how wrong I was).

When I showed Pirate-Husband, as I probably should have done the first time around, he told me the right way to do it would be to use bigger pieces of wool and put them on the insides of the cuffs, sandwiching the knitting between the felt and the snap. I borrowed an x-acto knife from him and I’ve finally got them right… just one day before deadline. WHEW.

Not only do the snaps work better, and I’ve less fear of them pulling out of the knitting, but they look much better too, now that the felt is on the inside. I’m so pleased with the way these came out – and now that I know how best to attach the snaps, I may add some to my own Fleeps! Unfortunately, mine are getting to be a little thin. I might get another season out of them, but then it will be time to knit a second pair for myself. Maybe I’ll hold off on the snaps until then; after all, my Fleeps have been flopping for a couple of years now… and just last night, I found that the top of one finger was wearing dangerously thin. I’ve reinforced it with leftover yarn and all is well again! People often ask me if I’ve worn through any of the socks I’ve knit (I haven’t), but no one ever asks me about these. I wonder why not – they see so much more use.

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Aubrey M. Tinyfierce lost her fight with FIP yesterday. In the end, her fierce was just too tiny for a disease which is inevitably fatal. To say that we’ll miss her terribly is an understatement. At least for now, her picture will stay in the banner of my Etsy shop, which should be opening for business in the next couple of months. If I can’t do it to support her any more, I can still do it in her memory – and to build up a fund for Floyd T. Underfoot, should he happen to get sick. Right now we’re grateful that he’s healthy as a horse, sleek and energetic.

Friend Stef came over yesterday to keep me company and help distract me from thinking about Aubrey too much. I showed her the Winterlude Hat ™ which I’d blocked over a perfectly-sized ceramic bowl1, and she fell in love with its awesomeness. Then, because she has more sewing experience than I do, she helped me pin the fleece lining for the hat. It went much more smoothly for having an extra pair of hands involved. We had a good time chatting about craftsy things while I began sewing it up. I’m so close to being done with it and I can’t wait to try it out when I get to Canada in a week and a half.

While I’ve got the sewing box out, I need to sew the magnet-snaps into Michael’s Fleeps. And on the subject of projects which are really, really close to completion, I’m within a few stripes of the toe on the second Wibbly Wobbly, Timey Wimey Jaywalker. I’ve been working on it here and there while I wait for things like car maintenance and allergy shots. The other day I pulled it out to knit a few stripes and was actually surprised to discover that it’s almost finished!

I didn’t get much done on the blanket this past weekend, but I plan to work a couple of hexagons in tonight. And soon, if I’m feeling tired of crochet and want to get back to knitting, I can start on the pink and purple sweaters for the twin niecelets.

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1. Which shall be my hat-blocking bowl forevermore, when it’s not serving its usual role as a fruit dish.

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We had our family holiday celebration on Monday at my brother and sister-in-law’s place, and I finally got to give Dad his hat. It fits him perfectly, and he said that it is exactly the hat he wanted! Hooray! Now that I know his size, I told him, I can keep him in hats for as long as he wants. He mentioned a hat with notches over the ears to fit his headset when he flies. I’ll have to see about making something like that, perhaps for next Chanukah. Dad was kind enough to model it for me and even to lend me his camera to take pictures, since I’d (of course) forgotten mine.

Speaking of cameras, I’ve been thinking about getting a new one. Not another point & shoot, like the one I currently have (a Canon SD850IS), because – well, because my next mobile phone will have a really good small camera built right into it – no, I’m envying a DSLR, with which I can take much better pictures. It’s almost silly to think about it now because I don’t have the money to buy a camera, but maybe someday soon I will. Pirate-Husband thinks it’s silly of me to want such a thing. He is convinced that I will buy an expensive camera, take twenty pictures, and get tired of it. I’m not sure I see myself hiking all over the countryside hauling a camera with me, true, but I’d certainly take lots more pictures of stuff indoors, like kittens and dinners and knitting.

In other news, I got a package from Thailand in the mail. It makes the world seem very small, to be able to buy things from the other side of the planet with a few clicks of the mouse, and have them show up at my door less than two weeks later. What was inside the package, you might ask? (And why did I buy from an Etsy seller in Thailand? Because I couldn’t find the same things for a better price more locally. I looked. But 20 sets of snaps for $12, including shipping, is about as good as it gets.)

Twenty sets of ultra-thin, surprisingly strong, magnetic snaps. They are the kind of closures that are sewn on, rather than clipped through fabric. This seemed to be a wise decision for attaching a magnetic snap to the mitten-tops and wrist cuffs of Fleep-Top gloves. The kind of magnet that’s clipped through would leave a very cold metal circle on the inside of the cuff. I’m actually concerned that they are *too* strong, that unsnapping them will put more stress on the yarn than it can take, and that the gloves will have a shortened lifespan as a result. Perhaps I should reinforce the place where the snaps are sewn on with a piece of fabric on the inside.

My own Fleeps have never had anything to hold the top back when it’s not in use, and I’ve never had a problem with them flopping about… but Michael requested that I do something for his gloves, and so I shall. And if the magnetic snaps are as awesome as I think they will be, it’s fairly likely that I’ll add them to my gloves, too.

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I’d mentioned that the first two Fleeps had come out slightly different in size, but the more I looked at them the more I realized just how different they were. I tried to quell the thoughts of reknitting, but when Michael tried them on a few weeks ago, I knew instantly that I’d have to make one glove over.

He said I’m crazy, that if he wanted two identical gloves he would have bought them in a store. (Isn’t he nice?) I say it’s not crazy; the whole point of custom knitting is so that things fit exactly as they should. What good is it if one glove fits perfectly and one is so big that it might have been made for someone else?

How far off could it have been, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you, although it’s kind of embarrassing… one glove was 3/4″ longer than the other, and about 1/2″ wider. That is some serious difference. And it’s totally unacceptable. So really, the decision to reknit wasn’t a difficult one at all.

The sizing difference has to be a matter of gauge/tension, because each of the gloves has the same number of stitches (I counted to be sure) and the same number of rows. Maybe I was hurrying more when I knit the second one, and it came out tighter, and thus fits perfectly? Obviously I should hurry when I reknit the first one to get the same gauge. Or maybe I accidentally knit the first one on US 4/3.5mm needles instead of US 3/3.25mm? We’ll never know.

I began to knit the next (would that be the third, or the first?) glove, making sure to pull my stitches tight. After the cuff I could see that my gauge was much more in line with the second glove that had fit properly. Hooray! I kept measuring as I worked my way up the hand, just to be sure. And it came out just fine!

I had enough yarn left in the ball to knit a third glove and one mitten-top, and unraveling the first glove gave me enough recovered yarn to knit the second mitten-top. Unraveling was an adventure as I’d woven the half-million (okay, ten) yarn ends in very carefully. I also had yarn left over from my own pair of Fleeps that could have filled in, if I didn’t have enough, but it worked out just fine. And the cut-off fingers will make wonderful felted toys for the kittens.

The second mitten-top was finished in a frantic burst of knitting on Thanksgiving morning, and I held my breath when Michael tried on the gloves Friday night. But woo! They fit perfectly! Then he gave them right back to me to put on some sort of fleep-top holding device. I ordered little sew-on magnets that are shaped like snaps but don’t actually snap; if those turn out to be somehow wrong then I’ll sew on a button and a loop.

He still says I’m crazy – and a perfectionist, too – but I feel lots better about having made gloves that fit right. Would you have done differently?

Due Date …… Project
10/3 ………… Angie’s gifts
11/1 ………… Second Fleep, hand section
12/1 ………… Mom’s sock #2
12/1 ………… Dad’s hat
1/1 ….………. Gift for Janis’s baby boy
2/1 ………….. Fleep Restraints for Mitten Tops, awaiting magnets
2/1 ………….. Jacob Hat
3/1 ………….. Twins’ sweaters
4/15 …….….. Gift for Gwen’s baby

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Yesterday I was so tired when I got home that Pirate-Husband suggested that I should take a night off from knitting. “You’ve told me,” he said, “that when you’re tired you shouldn’t knit.”

“No,” I mumbled through a fog, “I can knit on something stockinette. I could, really. I could.” But I didn’t. He made dinner and we watched television with the cats draped across our laps, and then we both went to bed early. Not a productive evening, but a very comfortable one.

I’ve made progress on Michael’s Fleeps, but it will take a minor miracle to have them finished before I see him on Friday. There’s a lot to do tonight that isn’t knitting, like packing for Thanksgiving in New York, but maybe I can find a few moments. And I’m sure that Grandma won’t mind if I knit while we talk about everything under the sun. So, maybe! Fingers crossed.

Both of my socks-in-progress will be coming with me on the trip, too. Pirate-Husband pointed out, “We’ll be taking your car, there’s plenty of room for knitting,” and also commented “I know you love to start new projects, but I think you should finish the current socks first.” He is, of course, right on all three counts.

As for new projects, there is a LOT of baby knitting coming up. We will know the twins’ sexes tomorrow, so I’ll finally be able to buy the yarn for their sweaters. I am going to bring the KnitPicks catalog to New York with me, so that my sister-in-law can pick out exactly which colours she prefers. And my friend Gwen has just announced that she’s expecting her third, due in the end of May! I’m not yet sure what I’ll knit for her. Another sweater? A little toy? I’ll come up with something good.

Due Date …… Project
10/3 ………… Angie’s gifts
11/1 ………… Second Fleep, hand section
12/1 ………… Mom’s sock #2
12/1 ………… Dad’s hat
1/1 ….………. Gift for Janis’s baby boy
2/1 ………….. Mitten tops and thumb caps on Fleeps (almost done!)
2/1 ………….. Jacob Hat
3/1 ………….. Twins’ sweaters
4/15 ….……. Gift for Gwen’s baby

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Three weeks ahead of schedule, I’ve finished the second of the Fleep-Tops’ hands. Either my tension was much tighter as I was working on the second glove, or the first one was stretched out from all the trying-on – the second seems slightly smaller than the first. I’m sure it will stretch and can be blocked out to match the other one.

This gives me six weeks to finish Mom’s sock and Dad’s hat. Plenty of time. No worries at all. I wound up the Cascade 220 into a neat yarncake and worked up a small gauge swatch, since I can’t find any of the notes that I took five years ago when I knit Pirate-Husband’s hat. Grr, frustrating! At least I wrote down that I used a US 6 (4mm) needle, or I’d probably have been swatching on a US 7 (4.5mm). I measured 5.5 stitches to the inch, did the math, and cast on 116 stitches. Since Dad requested a smooth hat with a ribbed brim, I’ll be using the same Basic Hat Formula that I’ve knit up several times before.

The stitch marker I’m using came from a cat-themed set of markers I received in a holiday gift swap a few years ago. It’s an adorable pink cat with an articulated tail. I’d nearly forgotten about the set but I’m glad to have a chance to use it now! This is the kind of thing I’d probably never buy for myself, but getting it in a gift swap was really cool.

Due Date …… Project
10/3 ………… Angie’s gifts
11/1 ………… Second Fleep, hand section
12/1 ………… Mom’s sock #2
12/1 ………… Dad’s hat
1/1 ….………. Gift for Janis’s baby boy
2/1 ………….. Mitten tops and thumb caps on Fleeps
2/1 ………….. Jacob Hat
3/1 ………….. Twins’ sweaters

P.S. I had to add three words to my spell-checker’s dictionary for this post: Fleep, grr, and swatching. I think I say all three of these things often enough that they can be in my dictionary!

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Saturday morning found me hurrying to finish the heel flap and turn on Mom’s second sock so that I could bring it with me to my parents’ house, where we went in the afternoon to meet my second cousins once removed, who were visiting from England. It was wonderful to finally meet them! So wonderful, in fact, that I got caught up in conversing and completely forgot that I was supposed to be knitting while we talked, even though I had managed to get into the gusset before we drove down to their house. Mom tried on her first sock, and *whew* – it fit perfectly.

Dad’s asked me if I can make him a hat in charcoal gray – a standard toque or watch cap, with a turned-up brim. I’m going to see if I can get that done in time to be his Chanukah present. The due date list has been shifted around to accommodate for the hat and also to account for babies who aren’t going to be born until Spring. I’ve been told that I won’t need to have the twins’ sweaters in time for their birth, since I’m making them in a size for *next* winter, but I’m still going to aim to finish them in advance.

I did get to work on the sock a little more over the weekend, but most of my knitting time was aimed directly at the second of Michael’s Fleep-Tops. I’m knitting both hand sections first, leaving off the mitten tops and thumb caps until I can measure their placement on his hands. By knitting as fast as I could until bedtime, I managed to finish the ribbed cuff and knit the hand section to the base of the thumb opening. The second glove needed no measuring since I’d taken careful notes on the first one, so it goes along much faster. I’m sure the fingers will be just as fiddly, of course.

Due Date …… Project
10/3 ………… Angie’s gifts
11/1 ………… Second Fleep, hand section
12/1 ………… Mom’s sock #2
12/1 ………… Dad’s hat
1/1 ….………. Gift for Janis’s baby boy
2/1 ………….. Mitten tops and thumb caps on Fleeps
2/1 ………….. Jacob Hat
3/1 ………….. Twins’ sweaters

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I have a confession to make: I love lists. I love writing lists. I especially love writing lists on paper, putting line-items in order, and then re-writing the list in my neatest handwriting on a fresh sheet of paper. It makes me feel better about everything I have to do, helps me to see that my queue isn’t life-threatening. And it really isn’t! I’m feeling a lot better now, though I know I’ll have to be fairly disciplined in order to get everything done on time.

The cats are headed to the vet on Saturday to be spayed and neutered, and due to a bloodwork requirement we won’t get them back until Monday. The boarding is free, at least, but I feel a little bad about leaving them all weekend. On the other hand, that totally frees up two whole days for knitting without kitten assistance. (And cleaning the house, I suppose. These things have to be done.)

This weekend I can finish up Angie’s baby shower gifts and get started on the one for Janis. (Hey Janis, do you want it to be a surprise, or shall I blog about it as I go?) If I am vigilant about knitting some every day, and if I account for the usual life-craziness and procrastination, I can expect it to take about a month.

That leaves me with one sock for Mom, which I can’t start until she tries on the first sock, and the glove part of the second Fleep for Michael. If I can get all of that done by Thanksgiving, I can spend December on the twins’ sweaters – but I can’t even buy yarn for them until I know if they’re boys, girls, or one of each, so I’m just not going to think about it until I get that piece of news. And then I can spend January on the colourwork hat of the Jacob yarn I spun, and putting mitten-tops on the Fleeps.

So, for my own records and your amusement, here is my list of projects and their deadlines. I will probably certainly without a doubt look back on this list and laugh, next year…

Due Date …… Project
10/3 ………… Angie’s gifts
11/1 ………… Second Fleep, hand section
12/1 ………… Mom’s sock #2
1/1 ……….…. Gift for Janis
2/1 ………….. Twins’ sweaters
2/1 ………….. Mitten tops and thumb caps on Fleeps
2/1 ………….. Jacob Hat

Is that realistic? Am I crazy?

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On Saturday, Michael and I went to Maker Faire. It was pretty freaking awesome. We saw some really cool stuff – self replicating 3D printers, the Egg-Bot in action, and a fully functional lifesize game of Mousetrap. Not to mention the ArcAttack performance! We went wandering through the vendors and I was tempted (without any arm-twisting at all, really) into buying a 4+ ounce braid of locally sourced and hand-dyed merino top in deep blues and greens. I haven’t taken a picture of it yet, but as soon as the sun comes out I will.

I knit while I was riding the train, and it made the trip go by super-fast. On the way to New York, I finished off the fingers on the first Fleep-Top and got started on the Gnome Baby hat (link to pattern page on Ravelry). I held my breath when Michael tried on the glove, but there was nothing to worry about. It fits perfectly, and all the fingers are the right length. Whew! On the train ride home, I came close to finishing the baby hat. I’m already into the decreases which will form the point. (That red should be much more red. It’s not easy to get a good picture of such a saturated colour while on a moving train!)

Cascade Fixation is a funny yarn to knit with, but I’m not yet sure if that’s good funny or bad funny. It doesn’t hurt my hands like most cotton yarns do, but I find it difficult to keep an even tension due to the elastic content. I don’t want to pull too tightly on it, but I have to be extra careful of my tension between needles or I’ll get ladders. It’s great for baby clothes since it’s not rough or scratchy, and the elastic will certainly help keep the hat and booties on the baby rather than on the floor… but I think I’d rather knit with wool.

My sister-in-law has asked me to hold off on knitting for the twins until she finds out if they’ll be boys, girls, or one of each. She’d like to colour-code her babies, and so that project has been put on the back burner for a few more weeks. So far, the leading pattern is the Presto Chango – I really like the idea of having swappable front panels in which I can try different stitch patterns. Even with this delay, I have renewed confidence that I’ll be able to finish all my gift knits by their deadlines. Working up most of a hat in just a few hours has reminded me of how fast a baby-project goes.

Almost home, waiting at Metro Center for the train. I’m fascinated by the shapes of the concrete in the metro stations. That must be a good thing, since I had to wait twenty minutes for my train to come along…

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