Plain Jane Knits Up A Storm

A few musings about my needlecraft hobbies - knitting, crocheting, quilting, & cross-stitch along with my other love, genealogy. While growing up, I used to HATE the term "Plain Jane", but when it comes to knitting & crocheting, I've realized that I really *am* a Plain Jane in that I don't use fancy yarns.

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Location: Northern Detroit Metro area, Michigan, United States

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Another Rag-Tag & A Rummage Sale Find

Friday night I finished the Rag-Tag Afghan in green that I started Sunday. It's slightly smaller than the red one from last week. The left edge isn't as uneven as it looks - I pulled a bit to straighten it out and the yarn clung to the rough wood of the deck.

On Friday, we went to a church rummage sale in a near by town and - at the bottom of a box of vintage straight aluminum needles, I found these:

Four 16" circular needles in sizes 3, 4, 7 & 8, plus a 29" size 3 all marked $1.00. I added up the prices on the packages and it came out to almost $25. For $5 it was a bargain I couldn't pass up even if I'm not sure what I'll be using them for.

I'm working on a garter stitch shawl in a deep wine worsted for the K4 project and I'm going to pick out yarn for another rag-tag. I've also been continuing to work on washcloths for our Cloths For Crisis group and finished a couple more this week.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

A Tale of Two Toes

When last we met, I was working away on a toe-up sock in Sassy Stripe and all seemed to be going well. Then I tried it on - oh, boy! I have a very narrow foot (Double A with a 4A heel) and the pattern I was sort of following called for increasing every other row from the toe to the number of stitches for the instep. When I tried the sock on, there were little "ears" sticking out on either side until it started fitting well at the ball of the foot. In addition, I wasn't particularly pleased with how stiff the knit fabric was on size 1 needles or with how working with the needles hurt my hands. Forward to one of those "light bulb" moments: I needed a toe that increased more gradually! The 45° toe formed by the every other row increases left over 2" between the end of the increases and where my foot widened enough to fill the toe. Not wanting to burn my bridges (as the old saying goes) before I knew my idea would work, I started with the second skein of yarn. I wanted the socks to match, so I had to wind off quite a bit before I reached the same point where the other skein had started in the color sequence, but I cast on 10 stitches instead of 14, increased every other row three times and then every third row until I reached 68 stitches. I also switched up to size 2 needles which don't hurt my hands as much and produce a softer fabric. Below you can see the difference between the two toes. The one on the right fits perfectly. Now it's on to the heel wherein lies my next challenge.

When I wasn't working on the socks, or washcloths for Cloths for Crisis, or 8" afghan squares that will go to make a blanket for a young woman with cancer in Virginia, I kept crocheting on the red rag-tag afghan and finished it Thursday night.

Last night I started another rag-tag that will have shades of green on the ends.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Dancing Socks

This Sassy Stripes yarn is knitting up into a rather bright sock.

I started it last night using the toe that starts with a provisional cast-on into a crocheted chain after which about half an inch of stockinette is worked that becomes the end of the toe. At that point the stitches are taken from the provisional cast on and four are picked up along each half inch edge as the work switches to three needles. This was also the point where I went back to feeling like I did when I first started working with double points years ago - like I was wrestling a hedge-hog! Size 2 needles are sharp and I kept poking myself for a while as I started to increase on the sides. Once I got past the increases, things smoothed out and I really like the way that the toe formed. The size 2 needles make my hands ache so it's working up slowly, but still, I don't feel like this is too bad for one (long) evening's work.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


I've been searching the web looking for toe-up sock patterns and, while they're not as numerous as cuff down ones, I have found a few. In doing so, I've discovered that there are a number of ways to start said toes. Last night, I spent some time practicing on worsted weight yarn and size 10½ needles and completed two samples.

This one follows the pattern for the Falling Leaves socks on in which you knit to the last stitch, turn, YO, purl across to the last stitch, turn, YO, and so on, then coming back, untwist (?) the YO and knit it together. I don't think I understood the directions completely because this is what the "seams" looked like when I was done - not very pretty is it?:

The second sample was from Wendy's basic sock pattern and used wraps when working from the provisional cast on down to the toe and then double wraps coming back on the decrease side. Wendy also has a great How-To article at Knitty.

The "seams" on this one look much better:

The other versions that I haven't attempted yet are the one where you do a figure-8 cast on over two needles and then work out and pick up on the sides and another that's similar, but uses a provisional cast on to start a small rectangle that then becomes the end of the toe. If I have time, I may make samples of at least the latter this evening to see how it looks. In the meantime, I need to swatch with the Snappy Stripes and see what my gauge will be.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Sallee's An Enabler..

Yes, she is! Sallee is the one who convinced me that I could knit a lace shawl, so I now have both a completed Wool Peddler & Highland Triangle to keep my shoulders warm while I'm typing or knitting. Now Sallee is making a pair of socks and they look so neat (check them out on her blog!).. So after discussing the pros & cons of knitting socks - something that will wear out far faster than a sweater, a vest or an afghan - on line yesterday, the Spirits of Knitting either smiled on me or are having a huge belly laugh (I'll tell you which when the socks are done) as this morning at Meijers what did I find on the end cap of the yarn section but a Clearance! This is what I brought home along with the spinach, the pork roast, the Blue Bonnet margarine and sundry other edibles:

Two skeins of Moda Dea Sassy Stripes in Crush for $2.40 a skein rather than the usual $4.95. Now to find a toe up pattern that will work. I'm hoping that I can knit one pair and get socks out of my system - after all, I did make that pair of worsted weight ones last year for the First Sock KAL and wasn't tempted to try another because I hated grafting the toes, but with a toe-up pattern will my fortitude stay strong or will I become addicted like others have?? Stay tuned..........

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Lots Of Stuff

Or maybe not too much - I'm awful at coming up with titles for posts.

I finished the latest Rag-Tag afghan for the K4 project..

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I started a similar one but with red & cranberry shades for the ends. Our K4 group has an abundance of odd mismatched skeins of cream & white, so this is a good way of using them up.

I also finished the missing ear for the bear scarf and remade the mitten tops. Originally, I think they were supposed to have bear faces on them, but 1) the pattern was missing, 2) I couldn't figure out where the face was supposed to go and 3) while the thumb was child sized, the hand above it was long enough to fit an adult. I frogged them back and finished them this way.

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The purple mittens are another pair of child sized ones - one of the yarn donations had one mitten and the remaining skein of yarn, so I recreated the pattern by counting stitches. They're made from WoolEase Chunky and I really liked working with it. I finished the yellow shawl today and I have a pink one that was completed a couple weeks ago but still needs the yarn ends woven in. That leaves one K4 shawl on the needles - a baby blue boucle yarn on size 17 needles. And I still haven't gotten my nerve up to start the Adamas shawl.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Happy Dance!!!

I'm doing a Happy Dance this morning! I finished the outside lace edging on the Highland Triangle Shawl last night and it's wrapped around my shoulders as I'm typing..

Unblocked, the shawl is 75" from point to point and about 34" from the upper edge to the lower point. This is about the right size for me, so I'm not sure if I'll block it or not. I omitted the last set of row repeats in the inner border because I was running out of yarn and I was able to finish the lace edging with about 1/3rd of a skein left. It's stretching almost from the headboard to the foot of our queen sized bed and since I can't block it here (pins and a waterbed do NOT mix!), I don't think that borrowing Mom's spare bed for blocking would work as it's only a regular size.

I'm not sure if I like the way that the inner border tends to curve out. With an increase every other row, I think I expected it to continue the straight line of the top of the shawl. Blocking might solve this, but refer to the problem above. Right now I'm telling myself that it has a shape like the Farose Shawls even if it isn't one for real.

It took almost 10 skeins of KnitPicks Wool of the Andes (110 yards per skein) on size 10½ needles. I started it in mid-February, but have been working on other projects for our K4 group and a *third* pair of Fuzzy Feet for DH in the meantime.

Next up - the Adamas Shawl from KnitPicks in their Shadow lace weight in the Lost Lake colorway. Or maybe I'll finish the two garter stitch K4 shawls I have on the needles and work on the rag-tag afghan I'm making for the group. I also need to pull out my cotton yarn and get started on more washcloths for Cloths For Crisis. Many of our group have set a goal of knitting one cloth a week so that we have a supply ready should the coming hurricane season be as destructive as last year's Katrina & Rita.

Acrylics Anon/a