Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Extreme Budgeting

I don't know how many of you have noticed, but I have gone from being a woman who works in an architectural firm in Boston to a woman who works in an architectural firm in the Bay Area who has a toddler. The economy has also changed. All in all, even with a decent income, I am broke.

So, extreme budgeting time. I need to restrict my spending. This about more than the yarn diet I am already on... I need to not eat out, or splurge on anything not carefully planned. That's not easy as a single mother, because life throws random stuff at you and sometimes there simply isn't time or opportunity to pack a lunch or make dinner.

I am going to start logging where the money goes as much as seems prudent.

Today I:
  • Spent $5 at a bagel place for coffee and bagel with cream cheese, because I woke up late this morning and the coffee I made was crap and I didn't eat breakfast or have time to pack a lunch.
  • Made V. oatmeal and toaster hash browns, and she barely ate any of it, because she wanted to play with my housemate's kids, who were home sick.
  • In retrospect, I should have eaten her breakfast.
On the knitting front, the poncho is not yet done, but I have a pair of swatch booties that are almost complete and ready for their guinea pig recipient, my co-worker's new baby.
I need to make the ties...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Poncho Progress

I have been slowly knitting away at the Hooded Baby Poncho I started the other day; slowly, I say, not because it's a project that takes long, but because I've only been working on it intermittently. I probably could have gotten it done in a day. It is, after all, on US #10 needles!
You can see in the photo above that I have just passed the neck hole and have begun the back. I have also just started the second ball of Lion Brand Jiffy (El Paso is apparently the name of the colorway I'm using for the most part) and since it took an entire ball to do the front, plus that miscellaneous Jiffy of unknown colorway, I think I definitely need to procure some more yarn for this project. There is, after all, still a hood and a pocket to go after the back is done.
Close-up of Neck Hole
The neck hole looks pretty wonky, but I am hoping that will resolve itself once I attach the hood.
"Artistic" view of progress
I think this may turn out to be an acceptable play poncho in the long run. We'll see.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Scottie Baby Cardigan

Last year I knit this cute little flaming red cardigan for V. from a 1980's retro pattern - that is, a pattern from the 1980's that was nostalgic for The Little Rascals. I have, of course, lost the pattern since then, but the sweater remains.
Front view
I knit it in size 2, using Paton's Classic Wool, and if the shade of red you are seeing on your screen is searing the retinas of your eyes, then you are getting it about right. I thought ahead with this cardi somewhat and made the cuffs twice as long as they needed to be. I just folded them up, and when V. had a growth spurt, I folded them down. She tends to lanky and lean, figure-wise, so it was safe bet.
Overstitched Scottie in gray alpaca
The Scottie was what made me want to knit this pattern. I am a sucker for animals like this on clothes. I can't tell you how many dresses she has that feature Scotties or poodles or some such animal tethered to it. I had a little bit of heathered gray alpaca laying about, so I used it, and the effect is, I think, appropriately fuzzy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

More on the Dutch

I snapped a couple shots this morning of the Gentleman's Simple Sock that I blogged about yesterday. I didn't feel the one blurry photograph of the entire sock would really address the issues I'm feeling enthusiastic about.
Side view of Dutch heel
From the side, laid flat, the Dutch heel doesn't look like all that much to write home about, much less blog about. This is perhaps why I overlooked it for so long. Its true nature is not revealed until you look at it from below.
Bottom view of Dutch heel - note where the purled "seam stitch" stops and the decreasing begins

Look at the above photograph. That is the center bottom of the heel, that area you put your weight on when you're walking. Notice the big thing that looks like a rib in the middle of it? That is where the decreases are being formed. They are not delicately placed to either side like with the French heel I have been doing for so many years. (Yes - I have been faithful to the French heel for years now. I go in for all kinds of toes, but heels - no. I also don't go toe-up. I've tried it several times, but it restricts a person to very specific toe types.)

Better view of the ridge/rib
I like the narrow ridge/rib that runs along the bottom of this heel. I did a quick Internet search, and not everyone does their Dutch heel this way, some of them simply look like square heels, where the ridge/rib is almost as wide as the heel flap. That creates a look that is aesthetically and functionally very much like the French heel, which eliminates the features that I'm so keen on.

I said I did a basic wide toe on this sock, but that is not strictly true. It was all as usual until the end, where it was drawn together rather than kitchenered. This is not what I usually do, but it was what the pattern called for. I think I kind of like it, because I am lazy. Seven plus years of sock knitting and I still moan and have to get out the glossary for the instructions on kitchenering. I can never remember how it starts! With this toe, I can be as intellectually lazy as I want to be.
basic wide toe with drawn-together closure

Oh, and I measured the sock to assauge my nervous Nelly side. About 10 inches, which according to the info. I've found on shoes sizes should theoretically fit a man who wears anything from a US size 7 1/2 to US size 10, based on my theory that about a 10% negative ease (in this case, 1 inch) is what is comfortable in a sock, unless it is very tightly knit. Now I don't need to undo the toe and add length, thank goodness! 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Some Dutchness

I don't know how I escaped knowing about the Dutch heel, but apparently I did until I attempted the Gentleman's Simple Sock from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks. I've had the book for years - at least seven, I think - and I never realized the Dutch heel existed.

The Dutch heel, in my limited experience so far, consists of a heel flap that then begins to be reduced in the middle before "turning" and forms a rib down the sole on the bottom of the heel. To me, this seems like a fine solution to the problem of extra wear on the bottom of the heel, and it addresses my need to make heels distinct. I like to use reinforcing thread, and depending on the heel type, this either results in a tidy area of contrasting color... or not.
bad photo, good sock
This heel style is pretty much letting me have my way with things, and may become my new standard. I used some heathered gray reinforcing thread that came with a ball of Jawoll sock yarn, which resulted in a nice, subtle contrast against the graphite color of the Regia Silk sock yarn. I am extremely pleased by this. The toe was also reinforced, and is just a basic wide toe. I am, however, having some doubts about whether I made the sock big enough. I followed the instructions precisely, but still... I'm going to check out some charts on foot lengths vs. US shoe sizes and then whip out a tape measure and see if the sock would have to stretch more than a comfortable 10% larger...

Monday, April 09, 2012

Knitting From the Stash

This project is the result of my desire to knit from the stash. I have about 2 1/2 balls of Lion Brand Jiffy (Color 325, Lot 44109) - or rather, 2 balls of that color and a half ball of the same yarn in a slightly different colorway or lot, I'm not sure which. But it's close enough that I'm just throwing it in with it. I've decided to keep things simple, so I'm going to eat up this yarn by using a pattern intended for it, the Hooded Baby Poncho. V. could use a poncho that is easy to wash and is cheerful, so here it goes!
You can really see where the colorway changes
I started with the 1/2 ball of whatever colorway/lot, which was probably a mistake. I probably should have reserved that for the front pocket. But oh well. It's not critical, like the matching of stripes on a pair of socks. Which I will go completely anal and crazy over, to the point of cutting the yarn and rejoining it to make it all come out right... but that's not applicable here. It's just a play poncho. And besides, the pattern calls for 3 balls, so I may have to go get another ball somewhere anyways. The yarn I have was a hand-me-down, so it's really unlikely that any new Jiffy I get will be a great match.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Little Red Hat/Hood

A couple months ago I knit up a vintage hat/hood bonnet-like thing for V. I'm not really sure what to call it, but it's cute. (Please excuse the poor picture quality - these photos were taken on my camera phone, since somehow someone managed to stick their very tiny fingers into my camera aperture and break my camera... again.) It's a pattern from a Columbia-Minerva Baby Book Vol. 67 (1943).
Side view
Front-ish view
You can see the thing a bit more clearly in the photo below.

I used a fiery red colorway of Paton's Classic Wool, which has turned out to be one of my staples when I'm in a jam. I had just enough of it to make it, which was about 3/4 of a ball, because I had previously made V. a retro-themed red sweater. (I haven't shown that one yet - I need to!)

She hasn't worn it much yet since it's spring, but because it's really more of a  tie-on hood than a fitted hat, it will fit her next season. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, and even brought her a dress to go with it for next fall/winter.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Dilligence. Sort Of.

Well, I have been a busy bee lately. I'm trying to do the unthinkable - finish up UFO's and WIP's and Work From the Stash - and I'm making fair progress so far.

Thanks to the WWI scarf, endless garter stitch is now just a really long time to spend on garter stitch. The blandness of the WWI scarf pattern made my Interminable Garter Stitch project actually bearable, and even a little entertaining, because the color changes. I was even amused by the massive tangle the last half of the skein had become. It just added another layer of entertainment. Until, of course, I ran out of yarn. I'd optimistically only bought 2 skeins of the yarn I use for this project. At $23/skein, you could possibly see why. I figure it's variegated and lot differences won't matter so much. However, do I remember what brand the yarn was? I started that project a long time ago. Hmmm...

The bed socks have temporarily been thrown to the wayside. (I just read a note in my old post about this pattern wherein I said I would knit them again if I forgot how frickin' long it took me. I guess I did forget. :P) 

In their place, I am knitting another pattern from the same book (Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks). These are just plain men's socks, on US #2 needles, using a graphite colored Regia Silk sock yarn. They are progressing much more rapidly than a pattern that calls for a k3tog every fourth row, I must say. And thank goodness for that!

And yes, this IS stash yarn!

But what I really want to do is knit these bad boys:
These are argyle socks from an authentic 1920's pattern. The question is, though: Do I have enough stash yarn in the right colors and brands to do it, or would I have to buy the yarn? I'm afraid I may have to start knitting them to find out, possibly about half way through the second sock.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Commissioned Baby Hat Set #3

Here is the third and final baby hat/scarf set I was commissioned to make through my etsy shop around the holidays this winter. This one is for a three year old boy.

It's 100% wool.
Close-up of hat
On all the sets, I did some hand embroidery on the scarves and hats that matched. I figured that would make them more special than just plain hand knit hats. :)