Do you ever just forge ahead when you have no idea what you are doing or getting yourself into?

This week has been a lot of writing, and a little knitting. I did get out of work way too early last Friday night, and have some time to knit the next seven rows up to the heel flap. Then I botched the set-up row and had to tink back eighteen stitches. It would be bad, but twelve of the eighteen stitches were knit 1, purl 1. The other six stitches were purl 2, knit 2, purl 2…I was a flicking, tinking fool. After a few stitches, I did figure out to simply hold the yarn above the work and work with it that way.

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Heel Flap, I have made some progress, despite the flicking involved.

That was the easy mistake. The other “issue”, since I have two pair of socks going at once right now, I’m hoping is just as simple of a fix. I did mention I tend to get in over my head from time to time, right? Allow me to provide you backstory…I was sent some sock yarn in acrylic in a knitting swap gift a couple of years ago. Having wanted to knit socks, I forged ahead and attempted to follow the advice of those who have gone before. The best advice came in two forms: One-Pull the first two or three stitches on each needle to avoid ladders; Two: Visit Silver’s sock knitting class online.

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My very first, still wonky pair of socks…only worn when I’m getting out of them in a couple of hours.

Silver has been quite helpful to this over-eager knitter in the past. The knit 2, purl 2 ribbing pattern still leaves a little to be desired on my first pair of socks, but I did it. Now, for a little secret. I dislike knitting the same pattern twice. With dpns, I simply do it to complete the set because I want the sock. $20.00 a pair encourages a girl to knit. As I forged on, I added purls; Then I added yarn overs and created lace work. Then I worked on creatures, where I sucked up knitting the same pattern over and over again. Then I added cables. But I had yet to venture off of my trusty dpns.

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Another knitting creation mentioned in the back story, created entirely on dpns…

 

But I fell in love with the patterns in Ann Budd’s Sock Knitting: Master Class. I am still pretty much an intermediate knitter. I may just now be moving into advanced. I am not, by any means a Master. I did not let that one tiny word stop me. After all, it’s just a word, right? Right, except when it assumes you’ve played with more than one style or are smart enough to look up how-to knit a style before you attempt to knit it. Does this girl do that? (Yeah, yeah, go ahead and laugh).

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The moccasin toe increase, before it was turned. (Those straight brown and black dpns are the ones Dear James bought me for Christmas 2014–with black and cream yarn…oh, dearie my.)

Don’t get me wrong, these socks started out simple enough on two dpns with four markers, creating a moccasin toe. I got used to where and when for the increases and went at it. Then I got to work a few rows even and remove the markers. I had no idea why, but the pattern said to, so I did. Then I shifted the stitches and was simply amazed. Now I do need to re-read the pattern, But I’m pretty sure it did not tell me one key detail. (It’s probably a detail they assumed I knew.) As I re-read the pattern…it tells me to cast onto two circular 24” needles. I guess I’d better go buy two circular 24” needles, as I have one long circular needle right now.

So, do you wish to see my folly? Of course you do! I have knit about 3 ½” of sock from the toe up on flat needles. I was hoping this would be my easier traveling project. It’s looking like I’m better off with the cable knit socks right now. I need to make progress on this sock anyways.

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Isn’t this the coolest toe? I may like this set-up after all…though I’m sure more folly’s will follow.

In this pattern’s defense I will say first; so much for reading the pattern from start to finish. Second, I’m glad it doesn’t utilize dpns at this time. I feel almost better about it. I will knit the cherry yarn with these later, after I bind off and stitch the toe of my purple socks.

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I love my trusty dpns…see;-). Progress is being made;-).

I’m still hesitant about circular knitting of socks. I think it will alleviate ladders, but this method allows for floppy needles I suspect the cats are going to love. I also never got why people knit on circulars if they just have to switch to dpns to finish off the project.

In the meantime, when I get ready to cast on the second sock, I’ll have to decide if I’m going to repeat this mistake or create my own new follies on circular needles. They will happen, stay tuned.011

Ah, my Rose Rib socks from sock knitting master class…simple, easy, open work socks…I miss the days;-). Maeve (left) and Briannag love to snuggle me as I knit.

I did it! I got the first sock done tonight. Do Not Ask Me How Far Behind I Got On Homework…but I got it done. Actually, I’m not that far behind and I have till Tuesday to catch up. I’m not signing up for any extra days this week, no matter how short they promise to be. I may not sign up for any extra days for quite some time. That’s why I sub-teach some days. Plus, kids like knitting stories more than gamblers, usually.

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Progress on the sock monkey. I promise not to leave that needle there…

Since I do nothing the easy way, I have stories. Last week, my camera was on the fritz and behaving badly, but I could still get photos with it. Then Dear James tried to help, and broke the battery cover. Since I’d decided to tease him about a surprise Valentine’s Day Gift-I knew about the books I was receiving–he got an idea. I knew nothing of this, so let’s proceed as if you don’t either…though I sorta guessed at it. Then I set it aside.

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Poor battery cover on my old camera…

Move forward to the weekend, where I was going to finish the toe of this sock. The shift supervisor caught me at a semi-weak moment on the table, mid-hand. I expected he was going to tell me I was staying late Saturday night. Instead I ended up working an extra shift that turned into nine hours. I ended up staying far later than expected on Monday as well. Valentine’s Day was moved to Tuesday in this house.

Knitting did not get done as a result of the extra shift on Sunday; nor Monday. I had homework to finish and needed to study for an exam. I didn’t even take the sock monkey to classes on Tuesday. I forgot him. However, dear James and I finally got to have dinner together, then I stopped to buy a battery for my old camera. A piece of tape would take care of the battery cover. I met Dear James as he finished shopping for what was on the list, though the list hadn’t been completed and he told me to keep my battery receipt.

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New Camera…terrible photo with the old camera…but I’m not playing with mirrors here…

When we got home, he handed me my surprise gift. Holy Whoa! I returned the battery yesterday. This is the camera I originally wanted(perhaps slightly better), but didn’t want to ask for the more expensive model. I refused to discuss price. I didn’t need to know. I bought him a shirt with photos of his own puppies on it, that says “Happiness is owning a pit bull.” Briannag is on the front, like this:

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Briannag in her happy pose 😉

So, today, I took the exam and got out of another class early and set up a date with my aunt. Then I sat down to watch Project Runway: All Stars and knit. I got to the sock monkey’s neck and stuffed and knit a little of the head. Then I decided to finish the sock tonight.

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Good thing I re-read the pattern…these would have looked quite funny…

The toes weren’t the exact star toe decrease I was expecting, however, it was pretty close and similar to what I was used to. It wasn’t too hard to work, though I almost became confused at one point.

I almost missed four rows of decreasing, due to tiredness, likely. But I caught myself before I tried to turn thirteen stitches into three. It is much easier to turn five stitches into three. Take my word for it…

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Now, enjoy my finished sock…and feel my pain next week as I cast on the second half of this pair;-). 021

Finished sock…it doesn’t look too funny, in fact, it looks quite nice;-)

Almost Halfway There…

February 12, 2016

I tried on my socks this week. I thought I would need to do one more chart repeat, but I’m ready for the toes! I enjoy knitting the toes. They’re a bit easier–so it’s a break from the chart for me. There will be much less flicking. I will not be surprised if I move to Vanilla Latte socks after this pattern, even if it will be in black yarn.

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Maeve, inspecting the needles as I check the work.

The toes are not just simpler, they are a symbol of accomplishment. The toes are a sign that I’m going to make it, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. In addition, this pattern calls for the star-toe. I like doing this toe. I’m not sure why, perhaps it simply makes sense to me.

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The fit is good. I’m pleased with this sock and can’t wait to show you the rest. Maeve, must be enjoying the taste of the needles in the background.

However, I still have another sock to go. But once I finish the toes and run the yarn through them twice, I will be able to cast on the second sock and officially be more than halfway done. I love this sense of accomplishment.

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See, my baby toe has disappeared….and I think I have four rows of stockinette to stitch before I knit the toe.

Now, about this sock monkey. I’ve made good progress for him as well. I think it’s a boy, it won’t tell me until I’m nearly finished, or it may be up to the recipient, whom I shall not name at this time. While it’s not super-secret, it is hush-hush. He is almost halfway done as well.

I’ve got two legs and a tush and am creating his belly and back right now. I still have ears and a muzzle and arms and a tail to knit, but most of those things are easy. In the meantime, I have to stuff him as I go. I’m glad for the progress on him as well.

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Small edit: there will be no more silliness than necessary on this monkey. The four rows of pink candy at the top have been replaced with grey.

I’ll post updated photos next week, if possible. My camera picked tonight to go on the fritz. I either need to get it a good cleaning, or replace it somehow.

Looking for Progress

January 29, 2016

Progress is quite slow on most of the knitting this week. It will continue to be slow on the socks, though they are knitting up to be quite refined. I finished the second half of the chart repeat tonight and am playing the game of “How long until I get to the toe?”

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Still working towards the toes…

Progress is quite slow on most of the knitting this week. It will continue to be slow on the socks, though they are knitting up to be quite refined. I finished the second half of the chart repeat tonight and am playing the game of “How long until I get to the toe?”

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Tonight’s helpers…

My money will be wagered on not before Spring Break(sometime in March, here).

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Mariah’s sock monkey, as inspected by Briannag

Allow me to explain…there was this stocking, full of hand spun wool…and that provided an adventure(more details of the frog puddle soon). Then there was an actual commission of another, wait for it–I promise it’s not a sock, really–it’s a sock monkey. My Little’s grandmother recalled that I knit Mariah a sock monkey for a gift some time ago while she was helping said youngin’ clean her room. The next thing I knew, I was commissioned to create a sock monkey by March. Um, I still have to do homework, too.

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Sock Monkey on Briannag…with Scamp and Squib…

The sock monkeys are not hard, but did take about three weeks to knit up previously. Here’s hoping I work a little faster with experience, and I will be taking parts of this monkey to class…Photos of yarn to come-it did finally arrive. Though it’s simple acrylic, I had to get the colors shipped. Jo-Ann Fabrics was out of the gray. I was kind of disappointed, but I did get to check the Pink Candy colorway I wanted and I liked it, so I had them shipped together. I can’t wait to show you, because it’s not stash yarn until it’s been used.

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The new Sock Monkey colors…

Now, allow me to get back to this pretty wool yarn that landed in my stocking, then created a small frog puddle. I decided to knit my dear James an ear warmer. I even decided to knit his before mine, though he’s currently wearing every hat he owns except the one I knit for him. If that’s not love, it’s some form of insanity, I think. Let’s call it love, this week. It’s also dedication-but I’m American, dedication may be a symptom of mental illness. That’s for another week as I’ve digressed.

I decide to knit dear James an ear warmer. I measure his head. i decide on a simple stockinette stitch since it’s a variegated yarn. I do vary the stitches near the ear on each side to make sure to cover them. He also wanted a thinner forehead band. I take the knitting to class and I knit when I have spare time between classes.

There’s only one problem with this plan. I don’t have dear James’ head there to wrap the ear warmer around. So, I knit on and on in stockinette stitch. And I knit on and on.

Then I brought the ear warmer and dear James’ head together. Perhaps I should have taken a photo of this, but I did not. Sorry, dear friends. Alas, the twelve stitch strip went down past his right ear, when measuring from just behind the left. So, I put the ear warmer back on his head, pulled the knitting needle out of the section I’d increased to sixteen stitches (horrified gasps are expected) and inserted the needle back in the ear warmer a little above his ear and ripped vigorously, and carefully. (We’re working with wool, after all).

Then I quickly went about the business of increasing to eighteen stitches for the ear section, and asked how thick or narrow he wanted the back section. Since I’d started with fourteen stitches, I expected to return to fourteen stitches, once I finished the ear section.

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Current ear warmer progress. I think I’ve knit a fair amount of the rip-pitting frog pond

I don’t know if it became easier or harder, but this dear man(who was not stabbed with the knitting needle in this process), asked for a thicker back half of the ear warmer. So, I’m sticking with the eighteen stitch rows and will decrease when I get closer to the other ear, then I will join and hopefully be done. Famous last words, right? Perhaps those words are “Pictures to follow.”

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Current Sock Progress….Still wanting to meet the toe…

To Study Or To Knit…

January 22, 2016

…is not a choice I ever want to have to make. But sacrifices must be made. However, I’m also quilting. Perhaps I’ll get more time for that next week.002

Briannag, snuggling while I’m knitting.

I was going to read those ten pages tonight. They’re only ten pages. Over the weekend, I’ll read the stories and write the critiques, honestly yet nicely, like I’m supposed to. I hope the stories are good. I also have to write a two page story about a character that’s fun to write about. How on earth am I going to stop at two pages? Most of you are familiar with my work. I do that a minimum of twice weekly, if not more. I might join Nano in April, just because I’m in a creative writing class, so I’ll get off my butt and write the ten-minute play. But mine’s due first. It might be due before the class is over. We’ll have to see.

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Scamp, helping me knit…or at least inspecting the knitting needles…

This has been a week of adjustment and indecision. I still wish to move, but the right place isn’t coming along. My home hasn’t been right for some time either. I’m not sure how much less I’ll make as my schedule changes either. This could be rough. I have backup plans, but this could still be rough.

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Current cabling progress…I didn’t want to stop at half-way, but I’ve spent enough time not studying tonight…

In the meantime, sure, you’re studying Beowulf and Creative Writing, which sound great, but what about the knitting. It hasn’t entirely fallen by the wayside. I can study after the blog is written and my shower is finished, right? Perhaps I can study while cooking a meal for the next two days of ten hour shifts at work. After all, I strive to be Wonder Woman, right? Don’t we all. She did make it into my fiction piece this week, along with some butt-shaking(not twerking, I promise) and Monsieur Reliant…but that might be another blog. I hope there’s enough surprise factor. I have to finish this story one day. I’m at the killer’s frustration at not completing the third murder. I may need to utilize p.m.s. to finish this story.

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Current progress-side view…not my favorite view, but here it is…one day, this will be a sock…

So, let’s see my needles…I have two projects going. I only finished ten more rows(I think), of the chart pattern for the cable knit socks. I can do more Sunday night, and perhaps Monday night, when I’m getting more studying done as well. However, I’ve cast on an ear warmer from some of my handspun yarn I received for Christmas. This one’s for dear James, so I really need to measure his ear and the back of the neck to finish it. But I’ve been making progress between classes. So, knitting hasn’t fallen entirely to the wayside.

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The ear covering…only 18 stitches across, so I can knit this between classes…

This is a very simple pattern. I’ve pretty much worked it myself after looking at other possibilities. It’s easy to knit while waiting for class once I’ve eaten lunch. I’ve enjoyed it, and the next one is mine, and to be knit a little shorter with a little cabling worked in. I can’t wait to get started on it and show you.

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Dear James’ Ear warmer…perhaps I’ll get a photo of it on him. I’ll have to block this.

OH! I almost forgot to tell you: I’ve had a sock-monkey commissioned in gray and pink. It’s for a friend, so I’m doing it mostly as a favor and simply charging for the yarn. It’s in the mail tonight. I looked at Jo-ann’s and they didn’t have the main gray in the yarn I needed. I ordered it online, but I will share it with you as it doesn’t have to be kept super-secret. It’s for my little’s relative. It’s also been a couple of years since I’ve knit a sock-monkey, so I won’t feel as if I am only knitting socks all the time. It will also be easy to take to class, which is another factor I’m going to love about it. I can’t wait to get the yarn, start on it and share it with you guys. In the meantime, enjoy the half-chart progress I’ve managed to complete this week.

Yes, the sock monkey is finished. I think it is the fifth one I’ve knit-thankfully not this year. And I made it through the part where I forgot the pattern creator wasn’t good at reduction math. The theory was close, but the numbers were off. I simply added another row of reduction and don’t think it was noticed too much.

It has been a productive couple of days off for me. I nearly completed one block of the log cabin book wrap quilt. And I made homemade from scratch cranberry sauce last night. I also got some Christmas cards mailed, finally. Now I need to finish the second batch.

I made some double chocolate chip cookies Earlier this week, I put my tree up (finally), and tonight I got it trimmed with lights. It looks pretty. I did not take any pictures. Perhaps for next week…though I may have to decide to post my blog early. I also hear the Chinese (sort of) Chicken and Persimmon Sauce sizzling on the stove. Better get up and check that. Oh, and there’s my tea, in the (gasp) microwave. I haven’t bought my dear James a nice electric tea kettle. I haven’t figured out how to make it a good gift for him….hmmm….perhaps I need the help of a friend here;-).

Alas, oh yes, I wrapped gifts earlier. Phew, I should be exhausted. And I sewed a muzzle and ears and hat and scarf on the sock monkey. I sewed his/her arms and tail on earlier this week. It was easier than I remembered.  Let’s get that tea as I tell you about it…Chamomile with Lavender or Passion tea, dearie?

Now, let’s get back to the finishing touches on the sock monkey. I knit the hat and scarf before I finished the muzzle and ears. Since I was using a thinner yarn, I stuck with the patterns standard measurements on both. They seem to work. Then I began knitting the muzzle with the chunky yarn. Perhaps next time, I’ll use an even different yarn. However, I knit the muzzle with the regular number of stitches. It looked a little big.

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Front view of the yet to be named finished knit sock-style creation.

Then I forgot to work out some math and change the ears. So they were knit at the regular size as well. Then I needed to sew everything shut…except the hat. Let me explain. At the end of the knitting is the sewing. The scarf gets sewn shut at the ends. The ears get sewn shut once complete. The hat is not sewn shut. I simply sew it on with the option of removing it. But I do make a pom-pom for it. Dear James thought the pom-pom was a little big…bless his heart. He’s not making this monkey.

Alas, I digress, I had to sew all these parts shut, and since I knit the muzzle a wee-bit oversize, I decided to sew it shut to make up for the overage. I think it worked. And monkeys have a noticeable muzzle, right? In the end, I think it looked okay. I even got the dogs to help me model the dear monkey. He models better with pet help.

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Zeus ignoring the sock monkey he’s modeling.

Speaking of the dear pets, I will say, Scamp and Squib have been reasonably good about not getting into my yarn of late. It may be due to James leaving open a night-stand drawer to hold his kindle with a little red yarn he once practiced with to attempt to learn to knit. He has not made another attempt.

     Dear Scamp and Squib,

          Could one of you explain to me why I found red yarn in a cute little pile next to the scratching post? It wasn’t   

      intended for you either. It is also no longer where I set it on the desk…Hmmm….

     Love, Mom

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Scamp pretending she’s not ready to run off with the sock monkey while Squib is occupied with his nap. Briannag is the puppy model for the yet to be named creation.

Dear Mom,

           Don’t recall how that happened. Perhaps one of the other creatures in the house helped.

     Love, Scamp

     P.S. Squib is otherwise occupied, but this is our story and we’re sticking to it.

Then Ace of Cakes just raised the bar on the double chocolate chip cookies with nuts I forgot to bring back with me. If I had, I’d offer you a cookie. But someone made bacon chocolate chip cookies. I have got to figure that recipe out.
Back to the sock monkey one last time, she is also officially wrapped and ready to head off to my little next week. I assume its a girl, as well, you see, don’t you. And my little is a girl.

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Briannag, resigned to the modelling job, while wishing I’d make her something knit to chew on…It would take her thirty seconds to ruin a minimum of thirty minutes of work…

I can’t remember who started the geek humor this time, I think my dear James came home with stories about his gaming session. But I might have shared something I found online around the same time.  The he dared a look at me and suggested that he doesn’t get into knitting because there’s little  humor in it. After searching for blunt instruments he wisely keeps out of my reach, mostly, I looked him in the eye and said, “I’m shaping a sock-monkey butt this week.” He laughed and replied to the effect of “Point taken,” or “Fair enough.” Sometimes our humor may is juvenile, but its certainly there.

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The tush in question, knit much like the heel of a sock

I really did knit and shape a sock monkey butt. The legs are done. Once I got home and found the darning needle, I sewed them together and put the stitches on needles. Then I proceeded to knit the rounds. Next, I began the short rows to make the bottom half of the tush. I mean, really, can you read this with a straight face? I challenge you!

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The front view, with less humor, but certainly packed with bright stripes.

Once the short rows were where they needed to be, I began to work in the wrap and turn stitches, then I began knitting up to the waist and body and worked in another pink stripe. Now, I will begin the body and knit to the neck, then finish the head, hoping I have enough pink yarn to get me to through the arms. No worries, I’ll be sewing the armpits and will attempt to refrain from armpit jokes, unless I’m still in the throes of finals week, then all juvenile humor doubles in humor value.

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Working up to the body, and prepping for a tail I’m wondering if I’ll get to stripe, or if I’ll have to get creative.

I hope you enjoyed this smile today, I did. Now to go finish cooking the chicken thighs with turmeric, cumin and garlic that I set out. I meant to marinate it, but studying took over my life for a few days, as well as appointments. I’ll be back to semi-normal soon, I hope….then it’s Christmas and family gatherings. I’d better brush up on juvenile humor to get me through;-)

I Should Be…Studying…

November 29, 2014

…but I’m not. I do have a final research paper due. It’s only three to five pages I have to write. I’m usually pretty good at writing. It’s due Monday in class. I do not feel as if I have enough research done yet. I probably do. I feel as if I should be working on it and being productive. However, this blog was already pre-empted by Thanksgiving and I’ve known about this paper since September. I’ve even worked on it since then. I’m just not done, so I might feel as if I should be completing it.

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The humble beginnings…

But that is life. I was being productive this week by beginning to knit the sock monkey in blue and bright pink yarn. It looks much better for a nine year old girl. My ten year old niece looked at the yarn pairing and said, “I love it!” I’m on the right track. As I went to pick up my license plate to put on my new used car, I sat and visited with my sister in law and nieces and knit up a leg.

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The original foot with 24 stitches

As I rode in the car to Thanksgiving, I knit up the other leg on the two hour journey. I didn’t start until a half hour in. I have two legs done, and I got to the sewing part as we got turned around. I didn’t have a darning needle with me. I set it aside and visited with family, and wanted to go to sleep, but it was daylight, and there was too much activity to go to sleep. Plus, I don’t get to see James’ family very often. I wanted to make the most of it.

Once we returned home, I focused on the final paper and the studying for it. While I was at work last night and this morning, I continued researching early herbal medicine and what our ancients would plant in their gardens to keep their families healthy and just in case they got a cold or a flu.

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Two legs, 18 stitches in the round as this yarn knits up bigger…

I have decided to allow myself time to post this blog, and make some headway with knitting. The school work will be there when I finish this shortened post, and the knitting did get done. However, I have officially switched projects until this one is done.  Now I just have to remember to stuff the legs before I move on too far;-).

Wish me luck on the final paper, please, but I hope I don’t really need luck;-).

Note: The pictures are now up;-). My dear James worked his magic with my camera and a corner of an envelope. He must have dug deeper than I did. Thank you to the kind-hearted camera repair blog at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkEfnF6zVxc or http://camerarepair.blogspot.com/2007… Both of these posts were quite helpful in figuring out what was going on with my camera so I didn’t have to replace it. I greatly appreciate the assist!

This week, I faced a minor dilemma: Do I blog about knitting for friends or about the sock monkey I knit for my best friend? I finally solved it sometime between last night and tonight. I can write about both in the same blog. Why write about the third sock monkey? Because it’s for my best friend and it deserves the same honor the other sock monkey receives. Also, because, I once again used a new yarn that gave this monkey a fuzzy effect without being overly difficult to work with. As for writing about knitting for others I include the knitting for friends here partly because I include a small part of it in any blog in which there is an intended recipient.

A small note on knitting for friends: I knit for those who have expressed an appreciation of my knitting, or who have an obsession with what I knit. On the flip side of knitting for friends and loved ones, I did once ask my nephew (who turned 13 this year), if he wanted me to knit anything for him. He said he didn’t want anything knit for him. I may work my way around this one day, likely by knitting his father a tie(he’s usually touched by my homemade gifts), and waiting for my nephew to express that he likes it, or to steal it from his dad. If I ever make it to knitting sweaters, I likely will knit my own first, then my brother’s and then possibly my nephew’s. However, I will only knit said potential sweater if he asks for it.

You may be asking if those who received the sock monkeys asked for them, they did not. My nieces are open to me knitting for them, and have asked what I was knitting, in the hopes it was for them. The first person I knit a sock monkey for-Gaylin, has a collection of sock monkeys, and Hairy, Sock Monkey of Crankiness (Until he tells Gaylin another chosen name), was a special addition to her collection. My best friend, may have asked for one when she heard about it, but in the interest of secrecy, I did not tell her anything about knitting her a sock monkey, nor did I ask if she wanted one.

Since I’ve known my best friend for over 21 years(Its okay to stop counting the years when your friendship is of legal age), I know her well enough to know that she’d like one, whether she’d ask for it or not. So, I went in search of tie-dyed yarn that didn’t break the bank. I did find something in the Red Heart for kids collection, but I don’t care for Red Heart yarn, and I found a more fitting yarn by Sensations. It was an Angel Hair style in bright colors that changed every three inches.

It suited Andrea. She likes things bright. Me, I’ll use Hairy’s purple(The First Sock Monkey), with a nice subdued green. Andrea would pick out the hottest pink or funkiest tie-dye available.

Francine, before being sewn together…Monkeys look so sweet when they are not yet capable of swinging from the ceiling fan…

So, I trusted my inner knowledge of my best friend, and began work on this once my niece’s and Gaylin’s sock monkeys were complete. You may notice the feet on this one are a little more defined than on the previous monkeys, and one more so than the other foot. This is an example of tension control. I started knitting a leg.

The beginning of the foot/leg are a little cumbersome. For most in the round projects, you cast on 6 or 8 stitches and increase until you have the number necessary for the round. The better projects can work this in with solid knit rows for larger rounds. When I began knitting the foot/leg, I was treating this yarn like all the others I had knit with in the past. The yarn was different. I believe it was still acrylic. I know it was soft. But there was a bulkiness to this yarn the others didn’t have. It knit up much tighter. After a couple of inches, I noticed how the foot looked and make an effort to relax my tension. You can see what happened, I hope.

Yes, I considered ripping the stitches out, and re-doing it. But, I didn’t want to re-do it and end up with the same effect; and the foot looked a little better defined. Also, if a friend doesn’t love most of your quirks, they’re probably not really your friend.  I did try to emulate the tension error on the other side, but I didn’t want to break or bend the needles I was fighting with to keep the tension. I did feel as if I was fighting with the yarn for that entire two inches. I was so glad to let the tension go. And when I switched to the Vanna’s choice balancing brown yarn in barley, I found it was easier to knit this time, as opposed to tougher with the Caron Simply Soft.

The difference in tension is a big part of the reason for knitting up a gauge swatch, but I find I like to live adventurously, and see how the yarn knits. If I were knitting this for sale, I would have re-done it. Since I was knitting Francine for Andrea, I left the mistakes in the monkey.

Close-up of the finished Francine(named by Andrea), with Zeus putting up with mom’s camera games…

One small note about naming the monkeys…I agree with Gaylin’s system. Sometimes the monkey will share their name with you, sometimes they won’t. Francine waited until she met Andrea to reveal her name. Celeste revealed her name to me about half way through the process, and the fourth sock monkey revealed her name to me as well. Gaylin’s Hairy, the sock monkey of crankiness was dubbed in honor of James, who inspired his creation, but to my knowledge, hasn’t revealed his monkey name to Gaylin yet. As I mentioned in my last blog, they each have their own personalities. I hope you will join me in meeting the fourth and currently sock monkey next week likely, and then move on with me to meet the “Gotta Love Me” Monster knit for 600 Monsters Strong, and the Cactuar knit by request as I move along my path in knitting…. Until then, Happy Needle Clicking!

Jessica’s Sock Monkey

March 21, 2013

The first sock monkey was so fun, I just couldn’t stop. So, what makes this sock monkey different from the last? Didn’t you know, sock monkeys each have their own personality. Not to mention, the yarn was different, the color variations, and the intended recipient.

My niece, Jessica, was turning eleven this past December. She’s on that cusp of knit dolls and monkeys possibly being too young for her. I considered that this may be the last time I get to knit her something like this, unless it’s done commemoratively. I believe she’d like to receive more knit creatures well, but she might sigh and perhaps wish I’d knit her a potato chip scarf or some fancy fingerless gloves she can show off to her friends. So I began the adventure of the next sock monkey.

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I chose different yarn, Deborah Norville’s Serenity collection for this knit creature. This yarn is still acrylic, but double stranded four-ply. It can be a minor challenge to knit with, but it is pretty and solid. I found a pretty green, blue and purple yarn that I thought was called Seven Seas.  It had been tagged incorrectly when I went back for another skein. I did not realize I’d need a second skein of this yarn, as I was using the same Vanna’s Choice in Barley for the rear and the muzzle.

When I returned to purchase the second skein of yarn, I was concerned they may have labeled the yarn wrong entirely. Finally, I found the Spring color after bringing a partially finished monkey into Jo-ann’s and matching them up. Fortunately, dye lots were not a big issue. But dye lots can be another blog.

 http://www.favecrafts.com/Knitting/Sock-Monkey-Knitting-Pattern-from-Red-Heart/ct/1

Since this Spring colored yarn was variegated, it made simple stripes between one and one and a half inch stripes, depending on the size limb I was knitting. It turned out pretty cute, in my opinion. It also had the double strand feature which I liked. There was less concern of stuffing sneaking through the stitches or a child’s hands causing it unintended damage. Its another reason to use acrylic. Depending on the yarn, I find acrylic is best reserved for toys or dolls. I have used some to have a capelet crocheted for me. However, I would not recommend acrylic for items worn close to the skin, on the feet, or all day wear. It makes for a nice soft stuffed creature, however.

 Now to accessorize said soft creature. Somewhere in the process, since this takes about three weeks to a month to knit–longer if I am working on other projects, or working full-time. I was not working, so I had time to think through the accessories. I still kept them simple. I decided to buy the yarn for another sock monkey for my youngest niece. I picked out a color called Cotton Candy. It was yellow with pink. My youngest niece always reminds me of the color yellow. Though she prefers purple to pink, which I was reminded of later.

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Whatever the preferences, the monkey had been knit and needed a hat and scarf to complete the pattern. I finished them quickly and easily, though it doesn’t feel quick and easy when you are trying to finish a sizable pattern and have a deadline and must add in four to five days for mailing.

No matter the deadlines, or project size, I enjoyed the finished product, as did my oldest niece. When she called to thank me, I tried to carefully inquire, and she thought her younger sister would like one for Christmas.  Thankfully, I was planning one for her birthday in February.