A Better Buttonhole

Knitting the Twist Cardigan has provided the opportunity to learn a new buttonhole, specifically the Tulips buttonhole by TECHknitting.  Here are my test buttonholes:

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If you want to do this buttonhole, the Interweave KnitsSpring Summer 2010 issue has the directions, but I found this video was pretty darned helpful in learning about to do.  My experience was that I didn’t need to use the smaller dpn needle to do the cast-on for the stitches of the buttonhole (which uses a crochet hook with a yarnover). I think this is because I’m a loose knitter, and I was able to pull those stitches quite tightly as I cast on. Since I was doing several buttonholes in one row, this was a way better thing.  They came out looking very symmetrical:

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I had a hiccup on the collar because I didn’t trust the pattern (sorry, Bonne Marie, how stupid is that!).  I cast-on fewer stitches for the collar than the pattern required because I was using my usual ratio formula.  This would have worked if I had intended to simply do a neck-band, but instead it pulled everything tighter that would be helpful for a collar turning out.  So I tinked my 3 inches or so of collar and tried again with the actual directions, and it worked (of course).  So I also followed the end cast-off directions, proving that I am teachable, and realiaed that the pattern has the collar echoing the button band cast-off.  Chic Knits patterns do this kind of thing all the time, it is so nice that someone else has thought of these things.

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Tasks remaining:

  1. Attach the sleeves (already knit) and pray that I don’t have any color-pooling because I didn’t alternate skeins on one of them.  If it is too noticeable, I will have to re-knit.  I’m trying to overlook that possibility.
  2. Block.  I think the slight pulling in on the bands will resolve itself nicely with blocking.
  3. Attach ribbon to button band and buttons for couture buttons.  I have the decorative buttons and the backing buttons.  I’m using these tutorials from Gigi of the Knitmore Girls. (look on the right side for grosgrain ribbon and button tutorials.)
  4. Weave in ends.  Celebrate greatly!
  5. Think about knitting a hat to match with the leftovers.
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Weakening

My resolve to not knit any gifts for Christmas is weakening.

Last night I looked for cute hat patterns, and found Brambles, a lovely free pattern on Knitty.  I have yarn stash in at least a couple of different fibers that would work. Then I realized that I already have a hat and scarf set done – but are they appropriate for someone on my list?  I’m not sure.  Then there’s the leftover yarn from the Poplar and Elm cardigan – it would make a lovely cowl.  Who knows where this will lead?  I fear that I will wait ’til the last week, cave in and find myself up ’til 1 a.m. knitting gifts.

I also realized that the corriedale yarn that I spun for my Candleglow scarfis slightly underspun, and this was driving me nuts.  I took out my spindle, and spun a couple of the skeins tighter, and have reset the twist – things are definitely going better now!

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The lovely Kalajoki socks are coming along – I’m finishing the first heel.

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The yarn is from Scout’s Swag, and is part of her sock yarn club – the colorway is Sagebrush.  This lovely (free) pattern is great with varigated and handpainted yarns. Since it has been freezing here overnight, the socks and hats are pretty important right now!.

But the bestest thing knitting-wise today is finding the right buttons for the Twist cardigan. Aren’t these going to be terrific?

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Sigh. It gives this knitter heart a little pitter-patter to find a button so perfect for the garment.

Finally, in the unexpected outcomes of knitting, we have these:
Inside Out a4a mittens

These were knit with the stockinette side out – just like in the basic mitten pattern by Ann Budd that I followed. But really, with the stripes, the insides looked much more interesting, and have the advantage of being slightly larger turned that way. Fortunately, I was hiding the ends pretty well, so you can’t tell that I changed my mind at the last minute. These are destined for Afghans for Afghans.

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For the Beauty of the Earth

I am truly thankful that this view is right outside on my deck…

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For those who may not know that the title of this post is from a popular 19th century Christian hymn.  The first stanza goes like this:

For the beauty of the earth
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.

Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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FO: Youth Blanket for Afghans for Afghans

As another batch of the yummy Lentil Soup simmers on the stove, I’m taking an opportunity to post about the finallyfinished Youth Blanket for Afghans for Afghans. This started as leftover squares from a long ago baby blanket project, using Mauch Chunky. Then it was briefly entered into the 2010 Ravelympics, which it did not complete, and went into complete hibernation after that. Now, at last, it is done!

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A few notes on the techniques I used. After single-crocheting around each square, I slip-stitched along the vertical seams, going under both loops from the front side, which created a slight, and to my eye, attractive ridge. But I didn’t want that on the horizontal seams, so I slip-stitched from the back side, and just took the back loops on each square, which is a lovely technique that is really, really solid, but very flexible.

For the border, I used a couple of black skeins and a bit of the bright bits leftover for a stripe along the top edge. To get the stitches on the borders, I did each side separately. I picked up the stitches, and then knit into the back of the loop, so the twist would make that edge firm. At each end on the first side, I increased into the front and back of the last stitch. On the second side, I would increase on the front, and knit that last stitch into the previous side’s edge on the back.

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Now I’ve still got the Twist cardigan in suspended animation, but enough energy to focus on that now!

And the Candleglow scarf is coming along, bit by bit. I love the colors!

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Lentils, Spiritual Style

One of my favorite recipes for over 25 years is one from Diet for a Small Planet by Francis Moore Lappe called “Lentils, Monastery Style,” presumably named so because it is simple, hearty, and the kind of fair that monks and nuns might find on their table. Using canned tomatoes, it takes about an hour to make, which is why lentils are one of my favorite legumes!

Lappe has gone to doing many awesome things related to the planet and food and democracy, which you can check out by going to the website she runs with her daughter, Small Planet Institute. There’s even a new sustainable recipe feature.

Over the years, I’ve adapted the Lentil recipe by adjusting the amounts and some of the ingredients. Today I got up early and made it for a workday at my church. It’s possible that my cats were freaked out at the cooking that happened so early this morning. Every bit was gone by the end of lunch! So I thought it might be nice to share with others who are needing hearty fare at this time of year.

I like to make a lot of it when I do, so the amounts in parenthesis make a larger pot.

Lentils, Spiritual Style – from raw to finished in one hour!

2 T canola or olive oil
2 (3) large onions, chopped
1 (2) carrot(s), chopped
1/2 tsp each thyme and marjoram, or other Italian herbs
3 cups (1 liter) stock
1 (1 1/2) c green lentils
(1/4 c pearl barley)
salt to taste
1/4 (3/8) c chopped parsley
1 one-pound (most of a 28 oz) canned, chopped tomatoes
1 T balsamic vinegar, or wine vinegar, or lemon juice
Optional: 1 T avocado oil
2/3 c shredded cheese–swiss or quattro fromagio are good

Heat oil in large pot. Saute onions and carrots 3-5 min. Add herbs, saute 1 min more. Add stock,
lentils, salt, parsley, and tomatoes. Cook on low heat, covered, until lentils are tender (about 45 min).
Add vinegar, cook for 5 min.

For serving, you can put cheese in the bottom of the bowl, and pour over, or ladle soup into bowls, and invite
guests to top with cheese. Delicious with bread or corn muffins!

Freezes well~

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Slogging Away

My projects are all slogging away.

I am slogging away on the twist cardigan:

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It’s very pretty, my cousin will love it, but I’m not completely certain about the buttons that I ordered from the Button Emporium (really cool buttons there on that site, and other notions like Petersham grosgrain).
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I’m dying to try a much better grosgrain button band based on the tutorial by Gigi of the Knitmore girls.  Terrific stuff!  But then I still need to knit a collar.  It needs a lot of focus to decide whether the buttons really work, and then get the bands done to a level I’m happy with. Slog.

Another slogging project is a pair of socks for my friend’s husband who will be going to  Afghanistan Iraq with his army National Guard unit the end of January/early February.  I’m done with one leg, and through most of a heel flap.  It doesn’t have to be done for a while, so the knitting is coming and going.  Slog, stop, slog, stop.

Then there’s the youth afghan/blanket for Afghans for Afghans.  I’m being a thrifty knitter here by using leftover squares and stash, but I am so over this project.  It’s the second biggest thing I’ve knit (my Log Cabin Square Afghan is the largest and probably one of my favorite knits ever).  The squares are done, crochet edged and joined.

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It is coming out fine, if not perfectly geometric, but I am so beyond caring at the moment.  It got a good spritzing, and I may add steam to lie flat.  But that is not end; no, that would be waaaayyy too easy.  The blanket is 41 inches square pre-blocking, 42 inches post-blocking and it should probably be 45 inches square, which means I need to add at least 1 1/2 inches of border all the way around.  Shoot me now, please.

The fun knit is with my handspun Corriedale – a hot, amazing colorway from Crown Mountain Farms called Pina Colada.  Yum!  I’m not completely sure that the pattern, a new one called Candleglow Scarf out of the Sock-Yarn One Skein Wonders book, is completely right for the yarn – any opinions out there? The swatch itself looks pretty good:

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This will take a while if I continue, it’s done on Size 3 (3.25 mm) needles. But it’s fun, and for me!

What this knitter is yearning for is a quick, easy, selfish knit.

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Squared Off

I’ve finished all the squares for the youth Afghans for Afghans blanket, and I’ve got them arranged:

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And the pile of squares is lovely to squish:

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I still have to crochet edge four of the squares, but that won’t take much time.  The real question is how large the blanet will be. According to Afghans for Afghans, the blanket needs to be a minimum of 40 x 45, but no larger than 50 x 50.  I think I’ll shoot for 45 x 45, depending…

In the meantime, I had a knitting fog moment.  I’m knitting the lovely free pattern Moss Stitch Beret (check out Rav notes for the real stitch count at the top), and managed to drop stitches while knitting with Shelter  and the hem was off on a slant.  I kept thinking it wouldn’t bug me, and after all, the sticky yarn wasn’t going anywhere, but it still looked sad.  See?

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So, I ripped out the knitting to the hem and put the hem provisional stitches on a smaller double-point needle and reknit the stitches together.  Now, even if you do it perfectly, you’ll be a half-stitch off (it’s the nature of the hem), but boy, it looks a lot better now that the hem is straightened!

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Not Feeling the Holiday Knitting

Last year, I got a really early start on Holiday Knitting because Knitty had changed up its schedule, and I got inspired by a couple of the patterns.  By Christmas, I had wonderful, intricate knitted goodness for lot’s of folks in my life, like Verdigris fingerless mittens, the Ishbel Shawl and Ishbel hat, and a pair of Pomatomus Socks done toe-up.  I was totally on top of things.

This year has gone very differently.  When Knitty’s holiday head-start issue came out, I was still in the thick of my mom’s cleaning out aand getting oriented to living someplace new.  And I had leftover projects from the spring, like the beautiful Poplar and Elm sweater, and then I started a Mondo Cable Cardigan for my Mom. Also, I gave away the Annis scarf to Rachel because it was her birthday and totally her colors.  On top of all that,  because my cousin Marie is so awesome, I recently started a Twist cardigan (rav link) for her, which is coming along nicely.  I’ve ordered buttons, so I’m getting close to finishing that.

Suffice it to say, almost all of the people who get knitting items from me, have already received , or are about to receive, a truly lovely intricate knitted item from me in the last half of 2010.  I have knit a ton for other people this year, and while I’ve enjoyed it, I’m starting to feel like I need to knit for me for a while. (Well, actually my Mom needs a warm scarf because she now lives where it is colder, but I’m cool with that.)  I’m totally ok with this, because of all these factors, except that it now raises a new issue:

What will I get all these folks for Christmas if I don’t knit for them?  Does this mean I will need to do some Christmas shopping?

Yarn and Fiber Alert: Did you know that A Verb for Keeping Warm is reopening its doors today in its new location on San Pablo Avenue in Oakland? Check it out – I can’t wait to see what’s new!

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FO: Stranded Steeked Vest

It’s done, it’s DONE! And I am happy with it:

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The finishing took about an hour and a half. Let’s look on the inside to see what I did on the armholes and neck:

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For the neckline, I had a too-narrow for comfort steek, so I machine-stitched on some grosgrain ribbon, slightly stretching the yarn as I went. This was so the neckline would stretch as the child puts the vest over his/her head. Then I tacked down the ribbon using some leftover matching laceweight yarn that I happened to have. Now there are two rows of machine-stitching at the neck, so it should not fray at this point. In this case, I went for functionality over beauty.

For the armholes, I used Lucy Neatby’s method of trimming the steek, and then doing the blanket stitch around the armhold to hold everything down. Here, I used some lovely Sunday Knits sportweight yarn leftover from the lovely Poplar and Elm cardigan.

And then I wove in the ends, which was not hard with this nice and sticky yarn. Voila!

Fortunately, I’m also getting feline approval:

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