Friday, December 28, 2007

Shameless Commerce

Ever since I received my very first Kodak Brownie camera, I've been snapping photos. Every few years, I treat myself to a new one, which means the old one needs to find a new home. I recently purchased a Canon SD 950 IS to replace my faithful Canon SD 500, shown here with Cheeto affectionately clutching her strap.

The camera is feeling lonely and miserable, and asked me to query my readers and see if anyone would like to take her in. As she pointed out, she's been all over the world and never failed to take glorious photos. (You can read a review of this truly excellent camera here).

She will go to the highest bid over $100 and she comes with an extra battery and an endearing disposition. Cheeto, alas, is not included.

If you are interested, email me at fleeglemail at aol dot com.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Holiday Booty!

Well, actually, Booties! Rubber puddlersplashers! They go perfectly with the slippers I received from Kyoko-san for my birthday.

Sue, at Little Knits, supplied the yarn for stash enhancement presents.

A bit of gorgeous Trenna...

Some soft angora from Fly Designs...

And a skein of Little Knit's own Indie II cashmere/silk.

My major gift, though, may seem a bit weird for a knitter. Ever since I can remember, my crochet hook collection, inherited from a variety of ancestors, resided in the tatty case shown on the left in the photo below. The hooks are old (some of them bone and ivory), but most of them have the thin steel handles that make my hands hurt. I don't do a lot of crochet work, but when I do, I have to stop every few minutes to rest. Finishing Lyra, what with zillions of crochet chains, was a miserable experience.

As of now, the old set (with a few exceptions) is on the way to Goodwill, having been replaced by the spiffy roll (courtesy of Etsy stores) shown on the right.

here's the entire set:

And the fat, hand-crafted handles are covered with colorful flowers, bugs, and butterflies...

And finally, a perfect necklace for a knitting fiend:

For some reason, the makers didn't see fit to etch the needle sizes next to the appropriate holes....we'll take it to a jeweler and have it engraved. Guess I'll have the jeweler inlay some extravagant gemstones into the sterling silver surface, too. (Just kidding, Dear!).

As a timely bonus, I received a Thank You gift from a friend in England. A skein of Suzanne's Sockenwolle, a little tin of hand cream, some adorable sheep stitch markers, elegant buttons, a lovely handmade shawl pin/hair stick/oil level tester (Just kidding, Hazel!), and a handmade Russian doll pin.

Stay tuned for the amazing knitted eggs, later this week.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Holiday Knitting 2008

For those of you who want to get a jump-start on next year's holiday knitting, here's a cool gift! No yardage or gauge is given, but let's just assume that you'll need more than a garage-full. Cashmere would be a nice touch, don't you think?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Current Knitting

Most of my favorite bloggers have been generating an alarming quantity of knitted goods this week. I am almost embarrassed to show you what I've been doing, but figured the overproducers can snicker as they soak their aching hands in warm grits. Or whatever passes for warm grits wherever you live.

I started another pair of formal socks for Roy, but as I was finished the toe increases, he decided what he really needed was a pair of mittens. No problem--a few more increases, no heel, and a thumb--and the foot covers morphed in hand covers. Or, in the case of Larry here, arm covers.

I have been quite diligent about the Patons shawl. The yarn is fabulous, the colors fabulous, and the pattern is pretty fabulous too.

I am also working on a strange little project that has been loosely named the International Shawl by the four participating collaborators. The concept is that each section of the shawl (center, inner border, outer border, and edging) is supposed to derive from a different country.

The chosen center is the one on page 64 of Naoko Ichida's Knitted Lace Designs Book 2--a compilation of Niebling treasures. I am at row 60 or so, but because everything is squished onto a circular needle, it photographed poorly. When I have more to show you, I'll try to work it off onto a larger needle and take an eye-candy photo. I can't figure out if the center design counts as Japanese or German...

All of us here at chez fleegle intend to have a lovely holiday and hope that all of you do too! I am sure I will have some goodies to flaunt in the next post (there are some suspiciously squashy packages in the pile...Cool!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Yarnival, December 15, 2007

Happy Holidays, everyone! I hope the next few weeks bring you delicious food, presents filled with knitterly happiness, and the stamina to face yet another year of casting on, frogging, and staring hopelessly at Internet pages crammed full of expensive yarn.

Some Yarnivals have themes, but I couldn't come up with brilliant, cohesive topic. Consequently, this Yarnival is basically a little bag of stocking stuffers. I had a wonderful time compiling these entries, and I do hope you have an equally entertaining time reading them.

Tooling Along

I read this incredible story a few months ago, and still can’t believe that anyone could be so driven to produce the perfect, complete, set of Hybrid Mutant Ninja Interchangeable Knitting Needles. I am profoundly envious--my father was a man of many talents, but he had trouble differentiating one end of a screwdriver from the other.

Most of us cherish Colourmart with their mouth-watering range of inexpensive cashmere, but the cones of yarn can be awkward to work with. Z’s Momma solves this problem by inventing an inexpensive cone holder and posted instructions on how to make one for about eight bucks.

Like many knitters, I tend to scratch directions, tips, and modifications into a little notebook, where they promptly lose themselves amidst a forest of similar scribblings. For those of us with less-than ideal note-making skills, Kathryn Ivy presents well-organized, handsome journal templates for both knitting and crochet.

One of the standard items in my knitting bag is a crochet hook—invaluable for picking up stitches, binding off, making picots and bobbles, and snaring little onions out of mixed drinks. Girl On The Rocks is never without one, thanks to her nifty keychain crochet hook.

Don't put away the needle-nosed pliers quite yet. After you've finished making the mini-hook, you can wander over to Turtle Girl's blog, where she shows you how to make a customized row counter, using a few beads and an hour’s work.

Like sewing? Have a disorganized straight needle collection? Craftster shows you how to convert a used hardback book into a handsome needle holder. She used an old physics textbook and the results are unquestionably unique. The fact that you cheerfully tear the book apart makes me wish I had saved my much-despised organic chemistry text from college. Who knew?

Hate sewing? Have a disorganized circular needle collection? Check out pieknits’ no-sew circular needle holder. It’s cute and easy to rig from empty thread spools. Of course, if you hate sewing, you might not have any empty thread spools...

Like sewing? Need something to hold your knitting and all the other stuff you just made? UHandbag shows you how to make a pop-open/spring shut 14” tote with a useful little accessory pocket.

Photographing your work, be it proto-kitting, knitting, or a finished piece, can be difficult. A lightbox makes it a lot easier to take accurate pictures of your stuff. Professional light boxes are expensive, but LollyKnittingAround explains how to make a portable lightbox for less than $20.

Strobist uses a similar light box and explains how to use it for taking exquisitely detailed macro photographs.

A Few How-To's

The Experimental Knitter gives us a new, simple, elastic cast-on particularly appropriate for Guernsey sweaters. Best of all, it doesn't require a long tail.

Now that you've cast on, perhaps you want to embellish the fabric a bit. FluffyKnitterDeb’s wonderful beading tutorial shows you how to easily add beads with a crochet hook, so you don’t have to string trillions of little tiny beady things before you actually start knitting.

BadCat also has a wonderful beading tutorial on the same topic, complete with clear, easy-to-follow instructions.

And if you have finally completed your fabulous shawl, well, somebody actually submitted one of my own posts! How could I not include it, seeing as how this is my Yarnival? My faithful readers will already have blasted past this entry. The rest of you (fleegle who?), especially those to whom grafting is either a mystery or a nightmare, can check out my incredibly frothy description of Grafting for Dummies, complete with visuals of goofing up.

If you have a teeny-tiny doily pattern you adore and want to see it Writ Really Large, The Doily Underground gives an exhaustive analysis of doily-to-afghan conversions.

And speaking of lace (but also applicable to any knitting), MimKnits has a superb set of lessons on directional decreases. She shows numerous examples of yarnover/decrease placement, so you can see the visual effects of the variations. And once you finish reading Part 1, do go through the rest of her tutorials. They are all terrific.

Those who read my blog will understand that Harry, the Giant Knitting Spider, couldn't help but contribute a post about mending webs with yarn. Harry was also thrilled with Nina Katchadourian's Advertising Kit for Spiders, which allows him to integrate ads for karaoke machines and spicy cocktail onions (his favorite snack food) into his remarkably sloppy web.

Great (and Not So Great) Yarns

Fiber Fool clearly spends a lot of time knitting socks, and she has written an excellent, detailed comparative review of eight popular sock yarns. The sample socks are a bit of eye-candy, too!

Want to recycle an old sweater? Neauveau tells you how here. Frogging can be fun, especially if you use your future ex's knitted clothing!

Tired of knitting with ordinary yarn? Yearning to dabble in new media? Knit some marzipan, for a change. The results are amazing! And edible! First check our VeganYumYum's incredible cupcakes here, then motor on to her how-to tutorial here.

If you don’t have a sweet tooth, be aware that Ramen noodles make a splendid substitute for yarn. Watch the video and entertain yourself and your friends the next time you are in a Ramen restaurant.


If you are bored at work (or anywhere, for that matter), you can indulge in a bit of Knitting Boggle, courtesy of The Purloined Letter.

Double Helix obviously spent a lot of time defining variations of the humble swatch. Her lexicon is hilarious.

There’s no pattern here, but as the wife of a retired police lieutenant, I did enjoy this bit of knitted eye-candy.

And finally, if you are getting older and grayer by the second, rejoice! Go Knit In Your Hat has designed the retirement community of your dreams: Purlin’ Acres. Please do not apply for a few months, while I work my application over. Frankly, I wouldn't mind moving there now.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Saartje's Fleeglized Bootie

These adorable booties are the invention of a clever Dutch knitter named Saartje. They were irresistible, until I read the directions. Urk! Seams! And zillions of ends, too, whine.

Then I got to thinking that the pattern would be easy enough to adapt to the Fleegle Seamless Method. Here's an alternate method of knitting these little cuties. (The original pattern can be found here.)

Note: I emailed her twice asking for permission to post this altered the pattern, but she never answered me. I tried.

Note Again: Instructions are given for working on two circulars. DPN folks can easily convert to 5 sticks.

Cast on 31 stitches using the Turkish cast-on--15 stitches on needle 1 and 16 stitches on needle 2. I actually just cast on 30 stitches (15 loops), then made an extra loop on the second needle to get the stitch count correct.

Knit across the first needle only. You are now at the beginning of the rounds. You can place a marker, or just use the yarn dangle to indicate the beginning of the rounds.

Row 1: P15, place marker (pm), P1, pm, P15 (Because the marker business falls at the beginning of the needle, I moved a few stitches from the first needle to the second so the marker wouldn't fall off and the increases didn't occur at the very beginning of the second needle).

Row 2: Knit in the back and front of first stitch (kbf), knit to marker, make 1 using a backwards loop (m1), K1, m1, knit to last stitch, kbf (3 stitches between markers)

Row 3: Purl

Row 4: kbf, knit to marker, m1, K3, m1, knit to last stitch, kbf (5 stitches between markers)

Row 5: Purl

Row 6: kbf, knit to marker, m1, K1, m1, K3, m1, K1, m1, knit to last stitch, kbf (9 stitches between markers)

Row 7: Purl

Row 8: kbf, knit to marker, m1, K1, m1, K7, m1, K1, m1, knit to last stitch, kbf (13 stitches between markers)

Rows 9-18: garter stitch, that is purl 1 row, knit 1 row

Row 19: Purl. Change color here if desired.

Row 20: K15, SSK 5x, K1, K2Tog 5x, K15

Row 21: Purl
Row 22: Knit
Row 23: Purl

Row 24: Knit 10, turn, cast on 10 by knitting on*, Knit 20, Purl 31, turn.
Here you can see the finished cast-on stitches for the first strap. Instructions for the cast-on are at the end of this post.

Row 25: Bind off 21 purlwise, cast on 10.

Row 26: P20, K20.
With a crochet hook, slip-stitch in the first stitch of the row below, chain 6 (to make a button loop), and put the end of the chain loop back on the left needle.

Bind off 20 stitches knitwise, 20 stitches purlwise.

With a crochet hook, slip-stitch in the first stitch of the row below, chain 6 (to make a button loop), and put the end of the chain loop back on the left needle and slip-stitch the two stitches together. Cut yarn, pull through loop and finally...

Weave in ends.

*To cast-on via knitting on, insert the right needle into the first stitch on the left needle, knit through it normally, but don't drop the stitch.

Instead, return the loop to the left needle (1 stitch made). Insert the right needle between the first and second stitch on the left needle, knit and put the loop back on the left needle (another stitch made).

Repeat 8 more times. You should have 10 new stitches on the needle and be in position to resume knitting the next row.

Have fun!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Seams to me...

...are an incredible bore. Invariably, when I see a pattern I like, my eyes flow first to the bottom of the page. If I see the dreaded words "Sew seam..." or worse, "Sew seams..." I examine the pattern carefully to see if I can alter it so the last line reads: "Weave in ends."

Thus, when I was bitten by the Bootie Bug and plowed through dozens of adorable patterns, all of which ended with "Sew seams...", I figured there Had To Be A Better Way.

And of course there is. The techniques are adapted from my toe-up sock pattern and will work for many patterns that require endless (and useless) seaming. Any pseudobag-shaped object can be adapted to the Fleegle Seamless Method (FMS for short). For example, I have an adorable pattern for a Shaun the Sheep mobile. Every sheeplet requires at least one seam, but by applying the FMS to these objects, most of the seams are history.

The two examples I will present are both booties, but once you have tried it once, FMS is obvious and you can gleefully apply it to all sorts of things. The directions given here use two circular needles, but of course DPN fans can adapt it to five sticks.

The first pattern is for my seamless bottom-up bootie. I know I promised you guys this pattern last summer, but other things took precedence (translation: Writing patterns is not my favorite thing.)

Fleegle's Seamless Bottom-Up Booties

Cast on 36 stitches using the Turkish cast-on. You will have 18 stitches on each needle.

Knit the first needle. You are now at the beginning of the rounds. You can place a marker, or just use the yarn dangle to indicate the beginning of the rounds.

*Purl 1 round
kbf (Knit in the back and front of the stitch), knit to last stitch, kbf*

Repeat these two rounds 5 more times--60 stitches, 30 on each needle.

Work 10 more rounds of garter stitch--K 1 row, P 1 row.

On the last purl row, place a marker 5 stitches before the end of the first needle and another marker 5 stitches after the beginning of the second needle as shown here (click on the picture for clearer text):

Rearrange Stitches

Sorry to go all Cat Bordhi on you here. This step isn't absolutely necessary, but you will find it easier to work the toe-turning business if you rearrange the stitches.

We will designate the first needle as the instep needle and the second needle as the heel needle.

Place a different colored marker at the beginning of the second needle (now the heel needle) to mark the beginning of rows.

Move the first 12 stitches from the first (instep) needle to the heel needle.

Move the last 13 stitches on the heel needle to the first (instep) needle.

The instep needle should have 13 stitches, a marker, 10 stitches, a marker, 13 stitches.

The heel needle has 12 stitches, the beginning-of-round marker, 12 stitches.

Your bootie should now look something like this:

Notice that the working yarn is in the center of the heel needle. Knit across the 12 remaining stitches on the heel needle, then knit 23 stitches on the instep needle. You are on the far side of the instep.

Turn Toe

k3 tog tbl (through the back loop), turn, sl (slip) 1
p9, p3 tog
turn, sl 1

* k10 k3 tog tbl
turn, sl 1
p10, p3 tog *

repeat from * to * 4 more times

k10, k3 tog tbl
Do not turn. continue knitting across heel needle.

When you get around to the instep needle, k3 together, then knit around to beginning marker.

Your bootie should now look something like this:


Booties are notorious for falling off tiny feet. You can help them stay on by knitting an eyelet row, through which you can thread a ribbon, I-cord, string, rubber band, or tiny handcuffs.

Optional eyelet row:

*k1, YO, k2 tog* repeat from * to * end.

At this point, you can do anything you like. In the example shown here, I used the following pattern:

Rounds 1 and 3: Knit
Round 2: * K2, yo K2, pass the yo over the 2 stitches just knitted* repeat from * to end
Round 4: * yo K2, pass the yo over the 2 stitches just knitted, K2 * repeat from * to end

And here are two delicate little ribbing patterns that I also use frequently:

Little Ribbing #1

rows 1-3: k2 p2
row 4: k2tog, O, P2

Little Ribbing #2

R1: p2,k3
R2:p2, sl1k2 psso
R3: p2,k1,yo,k1
R4: p2,k3

In my next post, I will give you the pattern for fleeglized Sartjee booties. These were a bit of a challenge, but they were so cute (and had so many seams and ends to weave in) that I just couldn't resist simplifying the pattern.

RAK and Roll, Guys!

Sherri, whom most of us know from frequenting the Loopy Ewe yarn store, is sponsoring a Random Acts of Kindness drawing. Post a RAK on her blog every Monday during the month of December and you will be eligible for a prize drawing--a $75 of Loopy Ewe goodie bag.

Having delighted in all your comments, dear readers, I know that each of you probably does more than one RAK a week (leaving a comment on my blog definitely qualifies!). So please enter her drawing by posting your RAK here. In these rather unsettled times, it's also a pleasure to read some good news for a change.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Lyra Complete! (sniffle)

There are some projects that never seem to end and others that end too soon. When the final stitch of this incomparable design fell of my needles, I felt truly bereft.

There will be other Nieblings in the future, assuming I can get Harry to lend me a few patterns, but I wonder if I will achieve the rapture I experienced knitting this design.

For those of you who tuned in late, the yarn used was Yarn Place's inestimable Gentle (Dark Ruby) on #2.5 needles. I did not change needle size and I still cannot figure out the reference to the "binding" that is supposed to occur at the bottom of the leaves. Gentle's stretchiness probably absorbed whatever distortion might be evident with a less elastic yarn.

The finished size is 52"-squareish.

One word of warning about the yarn--it bled a lot. Even three rinsings with citric acid (don't care for the smell of vinegar) didn't stop the red from streaming out of the shawl. I don't really care, as both the yarn and the color were fabulous, but probably don't want to wear this over a white dress in a rainstorm. Fortunately, except for my wedding gown, I don't own a white dress and I don't think I will be getting married again any time soon.

P.S.: If you decide to knit this, buy LOTS of pins for blocking!