Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pattern: Warblers

Today was going to be a Theoretical Thursday, but I got a delightful surprise this morning--my new pattern is up at Knit Picks! So we're going to talk about that instead, hope you don't mind!


Pattern: Warblers
Yarn: Knit Picks Palette, 1 ball each in Ash and Safflower, or fingering weight yarn, approximately 200 yards each of 2 contrasting colors
Needles: US sz 2 DPNs, or size needed to obtain gauge
Other: waste yarn or stitch holder, 2 stitch markers, yarn needle
Gauge: 8st/in in slip st pattern
Ravelry link
Ravelry project page


These are a spring-y mitt, bright and cheery, but all that wool will still keep your knitting (or crocheting. or wand-wielding.) hands warm. The cuffs and edges feature a rick rack rib, while a slipped stitch pattern is used around the hand to create the checkerboard-like pattern. They're designed to coordinate, not match--the main and contrast colors switch for the hand of the 2nd mitt. Solid colored thumbs are tricky to pull off when working with 2 strands of yarn, but I've provided a number of tips for making it work (fingers crossed!)!

You can buy the pattern and yarn over at Knit Picks. Palette is a sturdy 100% wool, surprisingly not itchy, and it comes in every color under the sun. And you can't beat the price! You can pick up yarn and pattern for under $10. (In the future, I will likely sell the pattern through Ravelry as well, but for now, go show Knit Picks some love!)


A million thanks to Knit Picks for picking up my pattern, to my sister for modeling (if you look closely, you can also see a glimpse of the Wayfarer scarf I knit her for Christmas!), to Stephanie, AKA Swiffie, for help with editing, and to you guys for your continued encouragement!


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

On the land of the Incas

I've made it back, more or less in one piece, and while I adore Peru, I'm quite happy to be home. Sleeping in my own bed. With my own memory foam pillow.

I have lofty fantasies about being a world traveler, but the truth is, 10 days abroad is about my limit. I can stretch it to 2 weeks if pressed. But after that, there's nothing I want more than the familiarity of my own home. Scurrying around in taxis, eating exotics foods and trekking over ancient ruins is great for a while, but at the breaking point, I just want to hop in my own car and drive to Taco Bell for a 7-layer burrito, which I eat parked in front of my own TV, watching reruns of the Big Bang Theory without subtitles.

Here's a quick rundown of our trip:

February 11:
Arrive in Lima at 5am, after approximately 2 hours poor sleep on the airplane; pry eyes open to get through immigration and find luggage. CP's dad and stepmom pick us up at the airport and I'm too exhausted to say more than "hola." Arrive at hotel to find that even though we were promised an early check-in, they're not ready for us. Finally get into a room and collapse on a bed, vaguely aware that there is no air conditioning, only to be awakened by booming salsa music at 8:30am. Prepare to murder whoever is necessary for some peace and quiet. Spend the morning in a stupor listening to hotel guests scream and slam doors. Attempt to open windows and find they are blocked by blinds, so there is literally no way to cool room. Still half-conscious, am dragged off to a party with CP's friends, which he promised would start at 6pm--"hora gringa," ie, on time. Dinner is finally served at 9:30pm. Am nearly hysterical because I am too tired to form a coherent sentence in Spanish, and CP's friends must think I'm a a deaf mute, or worse. Return to hotel to discover that decorative glass blocks on sides of stairs are actually shared with room below--when their light is on, it shines in our room. Get stylish piece of cardboard from hotel staff to block window. Vow never to believe TripAdvisor hotel reviews again.

February 12-13:
Various meals eaten with CP's family, talking about people I don't know and places I haven't been. Lots of delicious seafood and pisco sours. Stole souvenir glass from Pescados Capitales. Grossed out by brother-in-law ordering cuy (guinea pig).

February 14, Valentine's Day:
Arrive in Cuzco. Manage to eat 2 meals before getting food poisoning and spending next 24 hours in bed, watching dubbed reruns of The Simpsons and crying because I'm ruining our vacation.

February 16:
Finally well enough to leave the hotel without vomiting, spend the day visiting sites in the Andes, including the alpaca farm, where I bought this:

2 100g balls handspun laceweight baby alpaca - $12 each.

February 17 - 19:
Back in Lima in entirely different hotel with no weird lights or shrieking neighbors; additional meals and adventures with CP's family and friends, although with much less eating on my part. Numerous taxi rides that almost result in my death. Highly amused by multiple advertisements for a food brand called Kraps, which rivals Bimbo for the worst Latin brand name:


And that's about it! Check out the rest of my photos here.

All of this running around didn't leave me with much time for knitting, so now I'm trying to play catch-up on two sweaters I'm dying to wear before the weather warms up. I did manage to finish the baby sweater for my new niece, which I'll tell you about next time.

And in other news, I'm getting ready to start up another raffle benefiting the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America, for their Baltimore Take Steps, Be Heard walk, which I first did in 2010. If you're interested in supporting Team Mary Kate by donating a prize for the raffle (yarn, fiber, pattern, tools, etc), which would be most appreciated, please shoot me an email at

Saturday, February 11, 2012

On Peruvians

They're, uh, loud. But have great food.

(And for the record, my Peruvian husband agrees about the loud.)

No blogging this week, but I'll be tweeting from Lima and Cusco for the next 9 days. Follow @mediaperuana to read all about the too much food I'll be eating, and the not enough knitting I'll be doing!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

First FO of 2012

I started 2012 with a serious case of startitis, so it's not too surprising that nothing much has actually been finished in the last month. But I committed to knitting 12 pair of socks this year, and I am proud to say I squeaked in just before the deadline and finished these on January 31st:


Pattern: Achilles Heal, Lucia Light, Knitty Winter bis 2011
Yarn: Ellen's Half-pint Farm 100% merino sock (picked up at Rhinebeck)
Needles: US 2.5 probably, I didn't check
Mods: regular toe
Rav link

These socks . . . they were an experience. Start at the cuff, work down the leg in pattern, then put the back on hold and continue working down the top of the foot. Around the ball of the foot, cast on additional stitches for the sole and continue working in the round until you think you should start the toe, then start decreasing (the pattern includes a special toe, I didn't bother with it). Then go back and add the heel.

I like this in theory. It gives the sock an interesting new look, and makes it possible to re-heel the sock if it wears through.

In practice, though, I found it too fiddly--stitches on holders, provisional cast-ons, attempting to guess where the toe should start. Socks can be tricky enough without all of that extra fiddling.

The point at which you should start the toe seems to have tripped up many knitters. Without the heel and bottom of the sole in place, it's difficult to determine how long the entire foot should be--if you're working on circular needles, you can try the sock on, but with no heel, it's easy to slip the foot portion forward or backward too far, which skews the measurements. Many knitters suggested putting the toe stitches on hold until you do the heel--but then that's even more fiddling.

Enough fiddling.


I like the way these look, the striping effect of the yarn is fun, and I am fond of the way a series of stitches wraps around the back of the heel. But the foot did come out a bit too short (you can see the back of the heel slipping under my foot a bit) and unless my socks suddenly develop a tendency to wear out at the heels, I don't think I'm likely to make this my new sock method.

I've already started on February's socks using some DIC Smooshy. I'm trying these Business Casual socks, which will be for me, but they're quite unisex, so maybe someday, CP will get a pair. Possibly.

I am now faced with the challenge of selecting projects to bring with me to Peru. I need airplane knitting (for which I'll want the least threatening-looking needles so they'll make it through security), and then "gee, we still have 45 minutes until dinner, what shall we do?" knitting. And I have so much on the needles: socks, 3 sweaters, a baby sweater, and a shawl I've barely started that needs a lot of work. It requires some serious thought, so I don't panic at the last minute and pack it all.

In extremely exciting news, we'll be visiting Cuzco for a few days and have made plans to go to Awana Kancha! The website is, sadly, a bit pitiful, but after clicking a lot of broken links, I managed to discover that they have both dyeing and spinning demonstrations! And of course, alpacas. I've actually been to Awana Kancha once before, on my first trip to Peru--sadly, I wasn't a fibre enthusiast at the time, so I really didn't appreciate what I was seeing. I can't wait to view it all through new eyes.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Six More Weeks of Winter

Punxsutawney Phil's predicted 6 more weeks of winter would concern me a lot more if we'd had any winter to begin with. It was 65 degrees yesterday. February 1st. In Washington, D.C. So warm that I was attacked by a rogue stink bug after opening the windows (I considered leaving him to the cats, but they're pretty lazy hunters, so he was transported outside as swiftly as I could manage while shrieking and flailing my arms--CP has been in Costa Rica, so he was unavailable to offer support during this trying time). I really don't see any need to get upset about 6 more weeks of so-warm-you'd-be-hard-pressed-to-even-call-it-autumn.

(I know many people enjoy oddly warm weather, and while I agree it's not without its charms, it can really screw up plant and animal cycles. Not to mention, without cold, what use is there for knitting?)

Monday night I had my second spinning class, which mostly involved . . . more spinning. We also got an overview of washing and skeining yarn, discussed fibers, and had a quick look at plying. I hadn't really managed to spin enough to make plying worthwhile, so here's a look at my washed, dried and skeined singles:

That's about 25 yards. So, not really much use for anything. Which is ok, because I plan to keep it on my desk as inspiration. I've enjoyed my spinning experience so far, and I think I'm going to keep going. Which means I now have even more things I shouldn't be buying from Forbidden Woolery.

In other news, during the months of December and January, I submitted 3 design proposals to 3 different yarn companies--and I'm completely baffled to report that they've all been accepted! Truly unbelievable. That means I'll have at least 3 designs making their way to knitters over the course of 2012 (and, tee hee, it also means FREE YARN!). This will likely be the first:


Not much to look at, is it?