Back again!

JillKnits is back online … finally. I changed hosts from the one that started out fairly well, but eventually made me feel (from their ads) that they were more of a soft porn provider, to one that has rave reviews online. I’m fighting with the software (WordPress) by finding a glitch here and there that keeps logging me out before I’ve even had a chance to figure out where I am. Tech Support assures me that they’re working on a solution, but in the meantime, I have to figure out a work-around to get anything done. No problem … I can do this. I. Can. Do. This!

Those of you who read my last post (via my former host provider) know about my computer troubles of the past month or so. I’ve gotten most of it worked out now, recovered most of my programs and files, and seem to be mostly back on track. I was supposed to lead another sock workshop on Knitting Paradise this summer, but since I strongly suspect the virus that crashed my computer came from there (no fault of the forum itself, I’m sure), I had to withdraw. Plus, I haven’t been able to complete the new sock patterns I was working on because they had seemed to have just disappeared. I’ve since located most of them and will have at least one or two available within the next few weeks. I’ll make them available both here (if I can figure out how) and on Ravelry.

For now, I just wanted to let everyone know the site is back and, hopefully, I’ll be posting more frequently as I work on improving the site and getting it to look the way I want.

What are you knitting today?

 

 

 

Tech Junkie, that’s me


Up until several weeks ago, I often made fun (with a shrug of the shoulders and a roll of the eyes) of those people, young and older, who always seem to have a cell phone attached to their hand or their face. How did people survive before cell phones became so readily available, I would ask myself. My attitude has changed dramatically. I am not holier than thou … or anyone else, for that matter. No, I didn’t lose my cell phone. I don’t even have one that works, and haven’t for nearly a year now. What happened to me was so much worse, in my opinion. My computer crashed.


Had I been able to write this blog entry a week or so ago, it would have been XXX-rated. The screaming invectives rattling around my brain would have exploded onto the page and … well, it wouldn’t have been pretty. The weird thing is that while I was mightily upset that my computer crashed, I was even more appalled at my reaction to being without my beloved laptop. I was devastated. All my knitting patterns gone. All my knitting programs gone. All my contact with the knitting world gone. All my written works-in-progress gone. All my recorded books gone. Well, not gone as in deleted, just gone as in I couldn’t access any of it. I was so unnerved that I couldn’t even knit on socks that I really don’t even need a pattern for any longer.


It all began when I clicked on a regularly received e-mail and followed the usual link contained therein that took me to an oft-visited knitting forum. While reading messages posted on the forum, my screen suddenly flashed and then went blue with some kind of white-lettered techno-babble scrolling down it. Restarting the computer was impossible, so we called our IT guru (our son) and pleaded for help. Days later, after running numerous diagnostic tests, he discovered a malicious virus and found a way to remove it. I finally had my laptop back, in perfect working order again, and with all my stuff intact and accessible. I was thrilled! The very next day, I received the usual forum digest e-mail, clicked on the link and … CRASH!


Knowing that, while not being able to use the computer was extremely difficult to handle, adding on to that by not being able to even touch the laptop made for guaranteed emotional upheaval, I determined to figure out how to fix it myself. Using the same method as before to get rid of a virus did not work. Using a Restore point did not work. Using a System Image did not work. The third try (not the first or second attempt, and no, I don’t know why) at returning the laptop to it’s original factory condition finally allowed me to once again have a working system. I have been very cautiously switching various programs around, adding some and deleting others, to bring the laptop back to a working state I find comfortable and useable.


I still get that daily digest of messages posted to the knitting forum, but I refuse to even open it. I haven’t notified the Admin of the site simply because I have no hard evidence, only a very strong suspicion that someone has attached a malicious virus to their e-mail system. I’m just taking no chances that my own system will crash again.


So, if you haven’t heard from me in awhile via e-mail or seen any posts by me on any forum or social networking site, now you know why.

Okay, I did manage to finish one sock of a pair. This is an absolutely horrible photo, but life’s been like that lately. I call them Sherbet Socks. I only have a toe to finish up and my husband will have a matching pair.


Sherbet Socks





So, what are you knitting today?

Workshop Update

The workshop I led on Knitting Paradise has now been closed, but all the information will always be available for anyone interested for as long as KP is open. I thoroughly enjoyed leading so many knitters through the process I use for knitting socks, and I think the participants also enjoyed it. Some of the knitters had never knit a sock before and some were experienced.
 
Personally, as most of you have figured out already, I love to knit socks. They’re portable little canvases that give me an opportunity to try out new stitch patterns and end up with something totally wearable and useful. How much better can it get?!

I have also discovered something a bit strange. As much as I anticipate finishing a complete pair of socks, as soon as I do … a mysterious kind of anxiety washes over me. I get restless and out-of-sorts. My list of knits-in-progress is not a short one, but I simply must have a pair of socks on the needles, too. How weird is that?

Since I’ve agreed to lead another workshop on Knitting Paradise this coming summer, I’m busy designing new socks. However, I scored some striking Regia self-striping yarn during a shopping spree at Knit ‘N Knibble during their incredible sidewalk sale several weeks ago. I using it to knit some plain stockinette socks for my husband. It’s a no-brainer project and it’s socks. So, when I need some down time to just think or not think, as the case may be, I can keep my hands busy knitting those colorful socks. Life is good.

What are you knitting today?

A Completed Pair

Just to prove that I did, indeed, knit the second sock to match the first of the Variegated Rib Socks, here’s the visual proof.


I used Heritage Hand Painted Sock Yard (by Cascade Yarns). The skein contained 437 yards and I used most of it. There’s a small ball left. I think it’s interesting that both socks show a bit of pooling across the instep at the exact same spot. Now that’s matching!

Last time I posted here, I mentioned that I would be teaching a workshop on Knitting Paradise. The workshop was to instruct others in how I knit top-down socks using Magic Loop and to demonstrate, I used my basic sock pattern with a three-leaf-clover stitch pattern. The workshop is still running and going by comments made, it seems to be a success. I’ve been asked to do several more workshops for the Christmas in July series, so I’m working on a couple of more designs (socks and something else, maybe). We’ll see what happens.

What are you knitting today?

 

It’s all about socks

It’s been awhile since I last did a post here because … well, just because. Before I even did my very first post on this blog, I made the decision not to write about my personal life because it’s, ummmm, personal, and I wanted this blog to be just about knitting. So, if I haven’t knit anything worth talking about, it’s rather pointless to write a blog post.

Okay, so now I do have something related to knitting to write about. I mentioned some time before that I would be leading a workshop on Knitting Paradise about how to knit my pattern for lace socks using magic loop. The date has been set for February 25. The workshop actually opens on the 23rd, but the teaching aspect doesn’t start until the 25th. Go here and look for this: D-UPCOMING CONFIRMED CLASSES.as of Jan.1/13. Once you get there, you’ll see this: (K)Fancy lace knitted socks. original pattern by Patchworkcat (Jill) Feb.25 workshop opens on Feb. 23.

The pattern I’ll be teaching is really just a basic top-down heel flap sock worked using the magic loop technique. What makes this particular pattern special is that, because I wrote it for the new sock knitter, every step is written out in full detail accompanied by photos, a chart for the lace is included, plus there are several spreadsheet type charts to help read the charts. I know that sounds weird, but if you attend the workshop, download the pattern, and follow along, you’ll understand what I’m trying to say here. During the workshop, I’ll be available to answer questions and help knitters over any rough patches as they might occur. I’m really looking forward to it.

Three Leaf Clover Rib Socks


Three Leaf Clover Rib Socks




If you follow this link, it will take you to the place within Knitting Paradise where you can find other workshops that will help you knit all kinds of things like, socks using double pointed needles, lace, how to read charts, how to knit with color, toe up socks using magic loop, help knitting Elizabeth Zimmerman’s baby and adult surprise jackets, and lots more. The workshops that are closed still have all the information available, and if you have a question you can send a private message (PM) to the instructor.

As a side note, I did say the lace socks were knit using a basic pattern. Here’s the proof:


Ribbed Socks


I used the same pattern (with a few minor adjustments) to knit this ribbed sock. Yes, I know that sounds like it’s only one sock. I’ll cast on for its mate as soon as I post this. Promise.

So, what are you knitting today?


Free sock patterns

Just because … ummm, it’s Friday, I decided to offer two of my sock patterns as freebies.

Spiral Column Socks:


Spiral Socks



which has a spiral pattern down the leg that continues down the top of the foot. The link will take you to Ravelry. You don’t have to be a member to download the pattern, but membership is free and highly recommended.

And, Three Leaf Clover Socks:


Three Leaf Clover Socks



This pattern was written for new sock knitters using Magic Loop. It has every step written out in detail, penty of photos, and even includes a chart for the pattern written in such a way as to make it super easy for those who find charts difficult. (Again, the link will take you to Ravelry. You don’t have to be a member to download the pattern, but membership is free and highly recommended.)

I will be leading a workshop on the Three Leaf Clover Rib socks in February on Knitting Paradise. In the workshop, I’ll be available to answer any and all questions pertaining to this pattern.

Of course, if there are any questions about either pattern, please post them in the comments and I’ll get back to you as quick as I can.

So, what are you knitting today?

Changes


I realize it’s been a long time (the end of March) since I last wrote a post for this blog, but there have been what I consider to be really good reasons. Yep, more than one thing has been happening to make this a year or two to remember. The details are matters that I prefer remain private, but I will relate enough to give my readers the general feel of events.


The downhill slide began when my husband’s employers put him on “stand by” status. What that meant was that not only did they not have to pay his salary, but he could not apply for unemployment benefits. Therefore, we were suddenly without an income of any kind, as I have not been gainfully employed for many years and am now disabled to the point of not being able to work outside the home. We managed to survive on our savings for a short time, but are now living on social security and a small military retirement income. Our total income has been cut down to less than a quarter of what it once was. Many people are going through similar situations so we know we are not alone. (No, knowing that doesn’t really help or make us feel any better. It’s just a fact.)


Then we decided to move from the outrageously expensive Northern Virginia area to a small town near Tampa, Florida. We not only have family here, but the overall cost of living is less. We decided to keep expenses down by having our kids help us move using two rental trucks. We originally thought that we could manage with just one truck, but actually needed two. The trip that should have taken no more than 14 hours, ended up taking 25 hours. My husband and I had expected to share the driving, but each ended up driving a separate vehicle: he drove one of the two rental trucks, our son drove the other truck, while I drove the car.


We also now know the devastation wrought by being the victims of fraud and identity theft. It is an experience I wish on no one. We have been very fortunate in that our financial institutions are familiar with the steps required, and that they act quickly to safeguard their patrons once a breach has been discovered. Other appropriate steps have also been taken, but recovery is going to be a very long process.


Okay, enough doom and gloom. Life goes on.

I forced myself to thin out my stash to make it easier to move, and while I haven’t been able to do any replenishing, I did discover a small yarn shop less than 10 minutes from our house. It’s called Brandon Yarn Boutique. The shop is small, but the owner is very friendly, knowledgeable, and carries a nice selection of reasonably priced yarns. I think I’m going to like shopping there if and when funds permit. 


I have found a few good uses for my leftover sock yarn.


Cord Cozy



I saw (on Pinterest, I think) where someone had done this to her own headphones and it struck me as an incredibly good idea. It’s so irritating to grab your headphones only to find them snarled  into a knot. By covering the cords in knitted i-cord, the tangles are gone. I started at the plug end and worked my way up to each ear piece. The entire length took a surprisingly little amount of leftover sock yarn.



Cozies


 


Can Cozy



One thing I’ve always found to be a problem is the condensation that forms on the outside of cold glasses and cans in the summer. I dislike having wet hands (especially when knitting) and have an equal dislike for the rings left on the tables. These little quick-to-knit cozies nicely deal with both problems.


I knit these as I would the leg of a top down sock. To form the bottom, I knit 2 together across one row, knit one row plain, decreased around again, and bound off the remaining stitches. Quick and easy. The knitted fabric gives a secure grip when picking up the glass or can, and because they cover the edges of the bottom, there are no rings left on the furniture.


Phone Cozy





Phone Cozy




Yet another use for leftover sock yarn: a cell phone cozy knit from the bottom up to the flap. I found a leftover button to close the flap. Now I don’t have to worry about the face of my phone getting scratched when I toss it into my puse.


Waffle Rib Socks - JF




Short Socks




Since we arrived in Florida, I also finished knitting a pair of socks for my daughter (I’ll mail them off to her soon), and knit a pair of short socks for my husband.


Something I wasn’t expecting to find on our front door side window was this little guy:

Front Door Blob    Tiny Tree Frog


A tiny tree frog. Apparently, they are quite common in Florida.


We also have a wide variety of small lizards and toads keeping our yard as bug-free as they possibly can. There’s even a family of armadillos outside our back fence that have discovered that our dogs aren’t about to allow them easy access to our yard. They were too busy scrambling back under the fence to pose for pictures.


I’m unfamiliar with Florida weather in general, so I’ve no idea how cool it gets here in the winter. Is it worth my time to knit a fingering weight wool cardigan? I’ll have to wait and see. A shawl might be a good idea now, however, for when the air conditioning is set too high for my comfort or a cool night breeze stirs up. I’ve got enough KnitPicks Palette on hand for that. I’m ready to have something besides socks on the needles.

What are you knitting today?

Alpaca sweater finished!


I actually finished all work on my alpaca cardigan design well over a week ago, but just hadn’t gotten around to blocking it. The weather is a bit chilly today, so I went to work with my steam iron. I didn’t do a full blocking, just a bit of steam here and there.

Alpaca Cardigan


I rarely ever button up or zip closed any sweater or coat, so I just knit garter stitch front bands. The neckline is a simple icord edging.



This is the first sweater I’ve ever knit using alpaca yarn. Sometimes I loved the feel of it slipping through my fingers and other times…not so much. But, the finished sweater is very soft and lightweight.

Now, I’m working on a design using Cascade Yarns Sierra. It’s a worsted weight yarn of cotton and wool. I’ve found it to be very surprising how difficult it is for me to knit using larger needles. For this design I’m using a size 7 (4.5mm) and it’s very awkward. After knitting so many pairs of socks on tiny needles, these feel huge. It never occurred to me that larger needles would use different hand/finger muscles than the much smaller diameter needles. After less than an hour, my thumb joints are screaming at me to stop.

To keep my fingers and hands happy along with my brain, I’m going to also be working on a sweater design using KnitPicks Palette. Even though the fingering weight yarn will take longer to knit up into a complete sweater, my hands will be happier with the smaller needles. One is never too old to learn patience. I hope.

What are you knitting today?

Alpaca progress report….

Since I finished the fingering weight raglan sleeved sweater, I’ve had more time to devote to my alpaca design. I’ve managed to finish the yokes, and the body, but still have the sleeves to knit.

I did a partial blocking so I could finish the shoulders using a 3-needle bind off.









The lace body needs to be more fully blocked so that the pattern shows up better, including the cable down the middle of the back. Of course, the color doesn’t lend itself to clear definition, but still the lace will benefit from a decent blocking attempt.

The sweater shape is a modified drop shoulder, but I still managed to get the armholes too big. I could remove some of the yoke to make them smaller, but that would raise the point at which the garter stitch dividing lines (between the yoke and the body) crosses the body. I’m not sure I want garter stripes across my bust…no, I’m sure I don’t. I can live with deep armholes. Better too deep than not deep enough, I guess.

I’m thinking of finishing off the neck opening with i-cord. That will give a nice firm edge that will discourage stretching. I rarely, if ever, button or zip my sweaters or coats closed, so I decided to forego adding buttons or a zipper. The front looks fine to me with just garter stitch bands.

Once I get the sleeves done and have the whole sweater blocked, I’ll post the finished pictures.

Back to knitting…and packing (sigh).

What are you knitting today?



One Finished Sweater

I know it’s been a long while since I last posted an entry here, but that doesn’t mean life has stopped. My world is being turned upside down (again), but I have complete faith that all will turn out just as it is meant to be. The details are not important, and they are really no one’s business but mine and my husband’s. The single most important thing is that our marriage and love for one another is more than strong enough to carry us through, over, or around any bump in our road together.

While we struggle through together, I still manage to find time to knit. And, I even finally finished one sweater that’s been on the needles for well over a year.

It looked like this for a long time…. 

Knit Picks fingering weight




And then became this….


Knit Picks fingering weight sweater



And, now finally, it has become this….

Knit Picks fingering weight sweater done






 
I’m not overly pleased with how it turned out. The design evolved from some small corner of my brain and it looked different, better somehow, in my mind’s eye rather than how it looks in its finally finshed form. I think I would have placed the waist ribbing much higher above the waist. I might also have placed the defining slipped stitches a bit differently. I do, however, love the neck shaping and the pockets and the i-cord edging.

Still, I’m happy it’s done and finished and wearable.

I’ve moved on to another sweater that’s been on the needles way too long: my alpaca design. It’s worked from the bottom up and I have the lower body completely finished, plus one front yoke. Now that I’ve actually decided how I want it to look, the knitting is coming along much faster. I may even get it finished before it gets too warm to even think about wearing alpaca. No photos for now, but I’m sure I’ll take some after it’s been blocked.

Several pair of socks have been conceived, knitted, and worn during all the sweater designing and knitting angst. Nothing special about them, other than I enjoyed the knitting, but then, socks have always been my favorite knitting project.

Keep your fingers crossed, think good thoughts for us, and I’ll post again when life is a bit more…settled.

What are you knitting today?