"Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber." Proverbs 31:19 NLT

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Winter Beauty and a Boot Topper Update

We have had some very cold temperatures this winter and not too much snow. Plus we've had a LOT of dark, dreary days. Now, the other day, just a day or so after we arrived back home from our "trip to remember", I was walking the dog in our cold northern climate. This particular day, in which the sky was perfectly clear and we had gotten a bit of snow, I was busy taking pictures of all the gleaming beauty around me.

When I got on the computer sometime later, I saw that my "blog-o-sphere" friend, Gillian of Hookin' A Yarn had posted about her January garden and the things that were blooming. Wwwwhaaaaatt??? Blooms in January? Well, she does live in Northern Ireland. But still!

The pictures of her garden were lovely, what with the green grass and the daffodils about to burst open and the LAVENDER! Oh my! It is a far cry from our northern U.S.A. January. But when I got around to looking over my new photos from earlier in the day, I decided that our winter is, indeed, beautiful, too. Just different. So here are the photos from my phone.
The sun shining between

This is a stump full of
fungus. I suppose
it's dormant right now.
This tree always
makes me thing of Ents.
Here's a close-up of the
same tree.

Can you see the wild
beast? She is laying
on her cushy bed at
the moment.
We have a field full
of this dried out "weed."
I think I'm going to cut some
and put in a crock.

I thought I'd end this photo post with a photo up-date of the teal blue boot toppers from my last post.

I am very pleased with them. They look great on top of boots and the lace shows up better when they are on and slightly spread out. And they add an extra layer of warmth in this wintry place we call home. 

P.S. The knitted item on the right of the yarn is Forest Glade Cowl, which I found on the blog called Natural Suburbia.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Boot Toppers to Top Off an Outfit

As I stated in my last blog post, we recently returned from a trip to remember. Before we left I received a hand knit Christmas gift from my dear friend, Catie. It was a beautiful pair of boot toppers. It just so happened that I had gotten a pair of boots from my hubby for Christmas. The boot toppers from Catie are made by a free Ravelry pattern, Feather Lace Boot Toppers. It is a great pattern and really fun to watch grow.

While I was on my trip and trying to recover from a kidney stone, and after I had finished knitting the hat I showed in my last post, I made a pair of hand warmers to match the boot toppers that Catie had given me. I used the pattern that I adapted and shared here. The yarn I used was Lamb's Pride worsted in Grey Heather. To top it all off, I had been given a gray sweater by my son and I had made myself a gray purse or tote bag. Let me tell you, I am stylin'.

I have really enjoyed wearing the gray boot toppers - they show so nicely on black boots. I have enjoyed them so much, I decided to make myself a deep teal blue pair to match a cowl I made a few months ago. You can see the cowl here at Ravelry and find the link to the free pattern. (It originally came from a blog called Natural Suburbia.)

So I have finished one of the toppers and am on the 2nd row of the 2nd topper. Here are photos to show this little story.

Here's the lace beginning to take shape

I have to say that when I first began noticing hand warmers and boot toppers, I had a very "practical" response. I didn't see why you'd want your fingers hanging out in the cold and I didn't see any use for toppers. HOWEVER, I am really crazy about fingerless mitts now - they are wonderful in the chilly indoors. As for toppers, they make everything a bit cozier and they are very pretty. Practical? Somewhat, but pretty is also important!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Trip to Remember

Well, that was a trip to remember. It started out as a normal 12 hour, all day long drive to my parents' home in the Appalachian Mountains on the east side of the U.S. We hadn't seen them over Christmas so were going for a week to visit them. We were plenty tired when we arrived after dark, ate a bit and went to bed. Around 3:00 a.m. I woke up to what I thought was gas pain so in my attempt to not wake everybody, I tried different lying positions - on my tummy, on my side and in a fetal position, sitting, standing, and I tried floor, bed, recliner, potty, but nothing worked. By 4:30 my husband was awake and we were wondering about appendix and kidney stone, which it turned out to be.

I have heard that they are painful but I now have much more sympathy (empathy) for kidney stone sufferers. By 5:00 both my parents and the dog were wide awake and I was no longer trying to writhe quietly. We headed to the local emergency room, where I was treated with care and compassion. After dulling the pain with IV meds, I went home with prescriptions in hand. I had to take a pain killer and NSAIDS for 4 days. I'm not sure that the stone ever passed but, let me tell you, I drank gallons of water, which is supposed to help it pass and/or dissolve it. So, I'm trusting that everything is okay in there.

After a couple of days my sister came to have our Christmas celebration and meal. They succeeded at it quite nicely but I really don't have clear recollections of all it. I do have a nice pile of gifts to prove it happened.

Before we ever left on our trip I had started a Fair Isle hat to give to an elderly aunt. My mother told me that she likes to wear stocking hats in the winter so I started one to take along for working on in the evenings and then deliver it before we headed back home. For the first 2 days after the ER visit, I was pretty useless but by the evening of the 2nd day, as the pain meds were wearing off and before the pain resumed, I began thinking that if I worked slowly on the hat and really tried to concentrate, I could make some progress. I pulled it out and started while everyone was in the kitchen and pretty soon I heard my husband declaring to everyone, "Hey, she must be feeling better - she's knitting!"

As the days passed and the pain lessened, I plodded along on the hat until it was finished.

Here is the hat while blocking.
And here it is all finished and ready to be delivered.

We decided to extend our stay by a couple of days so my mother & I could get "out and about' to a few antique shops and second hand stores. Plus, that gave my sister a chance to come back for a nicer visit (nicer for me.)

So we were able to get over to deliver the hat. She seemed quite pleased with it and said that if felt so nice on her head and ears. I know exactly what she meant. I love mine, too. They make my ears so toasty warm, pushed up next to my head. Sometimes I think I'm tired of making these hats and that I'll take a break from them. But every time I get another one finished, I am in love all over again with the surprise of how it turns out.

Sis, Mom, & me

Dad and our big baby

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Tink - It's an Important Skill

The house is quiet again and piles of bedding and towels are nearly all washed and put away. As I begin the task of putting away the Christmas decorations for yet another year, many of the things make me smile as I look at them. Here's a look at a few of them.

Early in December I unearthed, so to speak, a couple of Christmas sweaters made just for Teddy Bears. So I found bears that the sweaters fit and dressed them for the holiday. I think I may just leave the attire on them for a month or 2 longer - they give me a little smile when I look at them.

Then just a week or so ago, my lovely stepdaughter finished a little cross stitched angel that she said I was swooning over the last time I saw her. So she framed the little cherub up and gave her to me. The gift brings a smile to my heart whenever I look at it.

A couple of weeks before Christmas I received a heavy package in the mail from a dear friend I've known since I was 12. The parcel had 2 wooden creations by her and her hubby: a yule log with candles and an angel wall hanging. Very nice treasures and momentos of our permanent friendship. Then tucked down in the box was a little knitting basket ornament.  A definite smile-causer.

And just a few moments ago while I was working on the photos for this post, a knitting friend stopped by my house with a few things for me, including a little gift of lovely snowflake earrings. I can't wait to wear them, but with the gift was a vintage card. It measures 2¼" x 3" and looks like something my mother would have had in the late 50's. I'm not sure if it is actually vintage or just has that look but it sure brought a smile to my face when I opened it.

And one other little thing - that is huge for knitter, I'm thinkin' - is a term I recently learned while I was teaching a Fair Isle (or 2 color knitting) class at the local yarn shop. It was while one of the ladies made a mistake all the way back to the beginning of her completed round. So she said, "No problem, I'll just 'tink' back." I don't think I had heard anyone use the term before but it is probably very common to most knitters. So I said, "Tink, I don't know what that is." She told me that it is Knit spelled backwards, which is what you do when you have to take out knitting - you knit backwards." HAHA Of course I had tinked many times but I didn't know it had a name. So I was happy to learn something while I was teaching something. And I actually chuckle every time I think of that conversation. And I believe I have laughed out loud each time I've re-told it to my husband. Which I know is more than once.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Pattern for "Almost Seamless" Hand Warmers - On Straight Needles

I was given a pair of hand warmers about a year ago in October and, along with the gift, my friend gave me the pattern she used. It can be found here. It is a basic pattern, knitted flat and seamed up, leaving a gap for the thumbs. I made three pairs from that pattern, the two black ones for my son (who is very thin and constantly has cold hands - he loves them) and the blue pair for myself. For my pair, I decided to try the same approximate pattern only in the round. When I got to the thumb holes, I went back and forth on the needles instead of circular knitting. Then after the thumb space, resumed circular. I had just learned two-color knitting and wanted to incorporate a bit of that, but had to stop with the thumb hole because I wasn't sure how to do it on the purl side.

Here's how I changed the above pattern for DPN's. I used worsted weight yarn and I believe the recommend US size 4 needle. I cast on 36 stitches (to be multiples of 4, to accommodate the K2, P2 ribbing). I did 6 rows of ribbing, 7 rows K (in which I did the 2- color knitting), 14 rows for the thumb hole, 7 rows of K, and then 6 more rows of K2, P2 ribbing.  I really like them but they could be a bit looser so I would use US size 6 needles the next time.

More recently, as in 2 days before Christmas, my husband was complaining about cold hands so I made him a pair of the same approximate pattern. He has large hands so I used worsted weight yarn, Patons Classic Wool (which is a great wool yarn), color Natural Mix, US size 7 needle and cast on 40 stitches. For length, I just held up the mitts to his hand as I knitted. Since I was knitting with straight needles, it was easy to get the size correct. I did the same thing as I seamed up for the thumb gap.

But for the pièce de résistance, the mitts for which I named this post. I started with a mitt pattern that I had gotten from my local yarn shop called Rings of Warmth Fingerless Mitts. I made them putting a Latvian braid on the first 2 purl rows. (For a look at my Latvian Braid directions, click here, scroll down to the Latvian braid section and on these mitts, I did Rounds 2 & 3.) I was too afraid to try the braid on DPN's so I dug out my 9" circulars - UGH! But after the braid, I switched to the same size DPN's, size 6.

After my first mitts being a tad too tight, I cast on 40 stitches. Some would think they feel too loose, but I actually find them to be warmer than my tighter, more tightly knitted ones. I'm guessing it's because of the extra air trapped inside. Maybe. 

By the way, I used a new Cascade yarn, called Hollywood. Notice on the web site, the sparkles. It is a great yarn, being 87% superwash wool. Very nice to work with.

BUT, the week I did these mitts, I had been doing a lot of sipping coffee and knitting with friends and using the DPN's were hard on my hands. So I decided to try the same approximate pattern, only on straight needles. I did the Latvian braid successfully on straights but was not pleased with the seam area. 

Soooo, I noticed a dear young lady at church on Sunday with freezing hands and decided to surprise her with a pair of my own design, sort of.  TA DA, drum roll, please:

I am very pleased with the end result. The "seamless" part comes in good seaming after casting off.

So, here is the pattern as I did them. But first, PLEASE NOTE that, since these mitts are done on straight needles, the 2 rows of purl bumps will be done with the purl side showing on the front. That means that one of them will be done as a purl row on the front side and the other will be done as a knit row on the back side.


Materials: Lion Brand Yarns Wool-Ease
                 US size 7 straight needles
                 2 stitch markers
                 tapestry needle
                 row counter (or a note pad to jot down where you are)

Gauge:     21 stitches in stockinette stitch (I'm a tightish knitter so maybe cast on a couple of less                          stitches if you are a looser knitter)

Terms:     M1 = make one. I used the bar between stitches but you can do it how you'd like
                PM = place marker

Finished size 8" circumference at wrist. (This fits me great and my wrist is 7" around. I believe there is some flexibility in the finished size. But maybe cast on a few more stitches if you are knitting for large-ish hands.)

CO 34 stitches, using long-tail cast on

Row 1: K across
Row 2: P across
Row 3: (front side) P across
Row 4: (back side) K across
-*Stockinette stitch for next 4 rows
-Do 2 rows with purl bumps on front, as follows:
          Purl (front side)
          Knit (back side)*

Repeat between *'s 2 more times for a total of 4 purl bump sections.

Stockinette stitch 2 rows

Begin Thumb Increases as follows:

*At the beginning of next row (front side) K1, M1, PM, Knit to last stitch in row, PM, M1, K1, M1

Stockinette stitch for next 3 rows.* Repeat between *'s until you have 11 stitches (except that instead of PM, move marker.)
(NOTE: for 2nd mitt, you can reverse the repeats, doing the lesser amount of increases on the last end and the more amount at the beginning.)

Work even in stockinette stitch until piece measures 2¾ " above cuff top, ending with a wrong side row.

On right side, purl stitches on outside of markers and knit stitches between markers.
On wrong side, knit the stitches on outside of markers and purl stitches between markers.
Cast off in knit stitch the first 4 stitches (thumb gusset stitches, removing marker as your CO the last of the 4.
Knit acRoss to last marker and remove it. Hold onto those 7 stitches by pinching and remove the needle, (being careful not to lose track of any of them) and re-insert the needle the opposite direction, as you prepare for a crochet cast off. (For a look at what I'm explaining, click here and scroll down to "Crochet Cast-Off.)

With crochet hook, cast off (without yarn) all 7 thumb stitches, using the 1st stitch of the hand section to complete casting off all 7 thumb stitches. Purl remaining stitches in that row.

*Stockinette next 4 rows.
Purl bump next 2 rows (purl on knit side, knit on purl side)*

Repeat between *'s one more time for a total of 2 purl rows. If you are knitting for long fingers or want the mitt to go closer to finger tips, make the first section of 4 stockinette rows 6 or more. These white ones are 6 rows for that first section. Clear?

Cast off with knit stitch.

Stitch up the seam from the front, using a ladder stitch. Or better yet, watch this wonderful video if you have trouble doing "seamless seams". I learned something from this video. I have done these seams slightly different and hers are even more invisible. :^)

I tried to show the holes from the increases in the
original circular needle pattern but, with the
black, they don't show up very well.

Notice the sparkles in the lovely
Wool-Ease yarn