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Archive for October 18th, 2007

Nancy’s FFFooties!

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

fffnancyoct07.jpgNancy wrote me this morning that she had finished a pair of Fast Florida Footies. She attached a photo, and approved my use of it here on this blog. I did airbrush it so that the socks have nothing else in the photo to distract.

I think these are lovely. They look as though they may have been knit in Cascade Fixation, the yarn I originally specified in the pattern. Lots of folks do these in other yarns, but I am pretty sure the reason the pattern is so popular is because of the yarn.

There are not too many patterns for socks specifying Fixation, which is a cotton/lycra blend. The FFFooties take very little of the yarn and are definitely a quicker knit than most. I am grateful the combination has been so good for me and the pattern.

Thank you for sharing your photo, Nancy!

More Finishing & African Memories

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

alsusoxafrica16.jpgThis is actually a photo from a few weeks back, but it is worth sharing. To be honest, the knitting is from a few years back and I just got the photo taken this fall.

Three years ago next month, I went to East Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya and Egypt… yes, Egypt is in Africa) at the invitation of my friend, Altu. She wanted to take me home (she was raised in Ethiopia though she is a US citizen now) and show me where she was from. Actually, since the government changed many years ago her parents are in a different part of the country from where she was raised, but she wanted me to see Africa.

I had a bit of a miracle, got a financial windfall just in time to say yes, and went to Africa for 38 days. That’s more than 5 weeks of no work, no obligations, nothing from my normal life. I was with people who normally do not speak English though most of them knew it quite well (to interact with me when I was the focus). However, much of the time they were chatting in their primary language about many things that did not directly concern welcoming me to their world.

I spent a lot of time watching my African friends chat and laugh, tell stories and laugh some more, and truly enjoy one another. I had a lot of time to sit, observe, and often knit.

mombasaweddingdancers.jpgI knit 10 pairs of socks in Africa. Most were fingering weight, many were a standard 7″ or so in leg height. Two pair were extremely fancy, at least three colors of yarn in stranded patterning, sometimes three colors in one row. One of those pairs was inspired by Ethiopian Baskets (follow link). One pair was inspired by Kenyan Gardens. (I can not seem to find a photo of these, though Terese and Altu both express love for the design with regularity.)

By the time I got to the last week of the trip, I was running out of balls of yarn which were large enough to do a solid-color pair. I determined to make a pair of footies for Altu out of most of a ball of red, and smaller balls of yellow and white. In order to maximize use of my remaining yarn, I made a striping pattern which pleased me and determined that I would use an afterthought heel.

This pair was my 107th pair that I finished knitting. To be honest, I didn’t finish working in the ends at the time, but I did finish the knitting part. The very last bit of the knitting was completed back in the USA, in January of 2005.

cairobreadman.jpgWhen I got home I decided I might like to write the pattern for these footies. I kept the socks until the time when the pattern was written. I even started writing the pattern, and then got distracted.

And the footies sat for nearly three years. Last month was Altu’s birthday and finally I worked in the twenty-plus yarn ends and presented them to her for her birthday gift.

Altu’s foot is larger than mine… I’m an extra-small and she’s closer to a large. The photo here is shown on a sock blocker that works on my foot, so it’s not properly stretched for your viewing enjoyment. I didn’t have time to fully block the socks before I met Altu for lunch that day, so this is the best view of the socks I will ever have, unless I knit another pair.

She loved them. And since she knew they were for her three years ago, I think she was relieved to know she actually got them after all this time! More finishing, you know? It feels good.

ethiopiasun4.jpg

Photos: Altu’s sock; Dancers at a wedding in Mombasa, Kenya; bread delivery man on bicycle (bread balanced on head) in Cairo, Egypt; Market scene in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (Africans are not afraid of color!).

A Compulsion to Complete

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

This week of no appointments is turning out to be good for me. I made sure all of my patterns were up and described on Ravelry. I cleaned up a little housekeeping on my shopping cart (more needs to follow but it was a significant start). I did some dyeing (it’s cooling off slowly in the basement dye studio as I type this). And I finished a few projects.

cabledcamelwristwarmersforjen20.jpgSometimes in this knitter’s life, there is a compulsion to start new projects. Thank goodness there is also the corresponding mood which is a compulsion to complete things. I’m in that mood right now. This is good, because I have many things up in the air and I distract easily.

I finished a larger BottleZig prototype before I left on the trip. I finished one set of cabled (!) wristwarmers in cocoa-colored washable camel/merino (from Rae’s) for a gift… then realized I needed another pair as another gift and fast.

They are essentially the same experiment twice, with slightly different cables. The ones you see here I like a little bit better, but they are both fun. I don’t knit cables often and I’m overdosed on them now for a while, but I think this yarn really is good in cables even though it’s really super fuzzy which hides a little detail. The yarn is wonderful, super soft but a bit pricey. Wristwarmers are a good use of the yarn, I got three wristwarmers out of two 50gm balls.

The first pair I finished just before I left for DC. The second pair I started while I was on the road and finished up this morning, they are still damp from blocking.

I actually also knit an unmatched pair of wristwarmers for myself in a green/magenta single-ply self-striping Diaketo I have had in stash (from Threadbear) for over a year. The colors please me but they knit up just enough different that I’m not quite sure I like how they turned out. This yarn would make a gorgeous Watercolor Bag or multidirectional scarf, but it’s a bit odd in wristwarmers.

I am quite sure I’ll do some embroidery on them to help the colors unify (they are huge unmatched stripes as they are). I have been missing embroidery for a long while, and after I got Kristin Nicholas’ Colorful Stitchery book last week I’m itching to get on with it. This will be a good project for it.

toeupmitten16.jpgWhile I was in Gwen Bortner’s class at the knitting retreat a few weeks ago, we had to come up with a “stitch pattern” for an exercise she did. I was sure I would not enjoy that process (I am not really fond of purl/knit patterns, preferring stockinette in the round and colorwork of any sort over texture). I decided to go for it anyway, just because I was in class and classes are for learning and pushing past our normal boundaries.

Well, the textured stitch turned out wonderful and now finally I think I have the answer to a long-posed question. I have a bunch of Cascade Indulgence yarn… some I bought and several skeins were a gift from Rob of Threadbear a few years ago.

This yarn is so perfect, it’s alpaca and angora. We are talking soft and even softer, without the spring of wool but the drape and luxury you can’t beat. It needed the absolute perfect project so I waited for inspiration.

The textured stitch pattern I created in class looks very promising as far as my Indulgence stash. I really wanted to knit something that would replace a wonderful wrap I got in Egypt 3 years ago, which is perfect except that it’s acrylic and pilling. The texture and weight/size of it are incredible and I probably have enough of the Indulgence yarn to knit something almost as big. So now I will need to swatch to be sure. I’m very hopeful.

I think once I get that started, I will be able to lug it around as waiting-room knitting rather than socks. And now that I have a BiggieZigBag I can use as a portable project bag, I can carry it for a while before it gets too big to lug around.

What else have I finished? Hmmm… I think the biggest thing is the dyeing. I have two BurlyZigBagz being test knit right now. I will need to work on the text for the pattern this week, as well. The pattern is more of a collection than a single pattern. There will be a small bag, two bottle bags (I think), two project bags. These include three different handle types (stronger for larger bags). There are two color charts, one for smaller bags and one for larger. I find myself wishing for the symbols of music (D.S. al Coda, for example) to help me explain which sections need knitting and in what order. The structuring of the information in the pattern collection is a real challenge for me right now, maybe more than the instructions themselves.

But for now I just need to really focus on what I actually have finished. Here is a photo of my cocoa-colored camel cabled wristwarmers. Here is also a photo of my “Toe-Up Mittens” which start the same as my First-time Toe-Up Socks pattern. There is no pattern for the wristwarmers though you could adapt my current Wristwarmer pattern by adding cables to it, I think. The mitten will eventually become a pattern but for now it will be a class I am piloting at Rae’s next Thursday.

I should show you a bunch of the other things I mentioned, but I’m falling asleep at the keyboard after that long dyeing session. Trust me, I’m taking good advantage of a free week without appointments. I will have lunch with Altu on Thursday as usual, but that’s the only committment I have until next Wednesday afternoon.

Nighty-Night!