Knitting by Judy @ 11:00 AM

I don’t know if you have heard the news from Uruguay?

I am sure that Malabrigo would appreciate some prayers / good thoughts / energy sent.

Knitting by Judy @ 10:03 PM

I thinks it’s safe to say that my feet will not go cold in the winter. My sock drawer holds quite a few pairs of hand-knit socks. But I have my favorites. And I tend to wear my favorites more than the less-favored (but still nice) pairs. And because I tend to wear them a lot, I tend to wear them out. I am rather fond of blowing out the bottoms of the heels. It may be because my feet are narrow, and my heels even more so, and my shoes tend to be a little loose. Whatever the cause, I usually fail to notice that a pair is inching towards disaster until one morning, bleary eyed and caffeine-less, I pull on a pair of socks and realize that something just doesn’t feel quite right and my heel is a bit drafty…

I am then faced with a choice: to darn or to toss? So far, since it’s always been my favorite pairs, darning has won out. Since I have a pair that needs darning, I thought I would share the process with you, gentle reader, in case you also might want to darn a sock or some other knit object.

the tools of the trade
the tools of the trade

These are the tools of the trade:

  • Thread for guy-wires. Any color can be used but a contrasting color is easier to see. It will be removed after darning.
  • Yarn for mending. I had some yarn left-over from these socks and amazingly enough actually found it. I can use it for mending. If I couldn’t find it, I would try first to match the same yarn in a different colorway. Failing that, I would look for yarn of the same weight and ideally the same fiber content. Color is the least important factor because the patch will be on the bottom of my foot.
  • Two needles: a sewing needle (for the thread) and a darning needle (for the yarn).
  • A darning egg or some other roundish object to provide a solid surface on which to work.

adding structure
adding structure

First, put the darning egg inside the sock and position the hole over it.

Examine the hole in the sock. Are stitches missing? Or has the fabric become thin and perhaps torn, but everything is still there? If all of the fabric is there, you can skip this step. But my socks have an actual hole with several missing rows of knitting. Before I can repair the hole, I must first create a structure to hold the yarn while I repair.

Thread a length of the thread onto the sewing needle. Starting on a row where all of the stitches are present, run the thread through the tops of the stitches of that row.

Turn and run the thread through the tops of the stitches of the next row. If stitches are missing, continue across the blank space with the thread and through the stitches on the other side of the hole.

Work back and forth with the thread until you have once again reached solid fabric. Secure the thread on both ends so it won’t pull loose while you are working.

duplicate stitching
duplicate stitching

Now thread a length of yarn onto the tapestry needle. Starting at the bottom of the hole – far enough down so that you are working in solidly knit fabric – begin duplicate stitching the first row.

When you reach the end of the first row, turn and begin duplicate stitching the next row above it. As you duplicate stitch this row, be sure to work through the stitches you just created in the previous row.

Continue working up the fabric, duplicate stitching through the stitches that are there.

filling in the hole
filling in the hole

When you come to the point where there are no stitches – only thread – loop the top of your new stitch around the thread. The thread will keep the yarn loop that forms the stitch from accidentally dropping.

On the next row you will duplicate stitch through the loops that are held by thread in the same way as you duplicate stitched through the stitches held by other stitches.

In this picture, the brown stitches on the previous row were created by looping them around the thread. Now I am creating red stitches by stitching through the brown stitches on the bottom, and looping the red yarn around the thread on the top.

Continue duplicate stitching up the rows of the sock until you are stitching through the solidly knit fabric at the top of the hole.

finished patch
finished patch

Once the patch is finished, weave in your ends and remove the thread.

Here is the finished patch on the bottom of my sock heel.

Although the other sock is wearing thing, it doesn’t yet have a hole in it. Since I’m darning one, however, I may as well go ahead and darn them both. The second sock will be easier because only the duplicate stitching is necessary. There is no actual hole, so the thread guy-wires aren’t required.

Darn those socks!

P.S. I will add this post under the Techniques menu so it will be easier to find in the future.

Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 1:49 PM

Multnomah County Courthouse
Multnomah County Courthouse

You will recall, gentle reader, that #1 Son had an interesting conversation with one of Portland’s finest, during which it was determined that, not only had he changed lanes across a solid white line, but he was driving on a suspended license. Oops. He subsequently had a lot of fun learning why it’s so much easier to take care of molehills right away, rather than waiting until they grow into something vaguely resembling the Himalayas and require Sherpas and bottled oxygen to conquer. For example, he learned that there’s a new National Naughty Drivers Database, and he would have to take care of the ticket he got in Washington and the one he got in North Dakota as well as the one in Oregon in order to get his license back. He learned that it’s hard to find someone in North Dakota who can take a payment over the phone, but worth the hassle to do so because mailing it in takes weeks before it is marked completed.

Part of his education included a trip down to the courthouse to enter a plea. My late Uncle Bob, an attorney who believe that even if you knew you were guilty you should make the State prove it, would have been proud of #1 Son as he entered his not guilty plea with the court clerk. A few days later a letter arrived with the assigned date. At the appointed time last Thursday, #1 Son and I met at the court house to participate in his right to a speedy trial.

There were quite a few people who gathered in the courtroom. Traffic court is sort of one of those herd-em-in / herd-em-out governmental cattle calls. Participants are told to report 1/2 hour before anything starts happening – probably because there are always a few late stragglers. Not knowing that, #1 Son and I arrived even earlier, so we had plenty of time to cool our heels while sitting in the front pew. (I know that’s not what it was, but the audience seating looked exactly like church pews.) As we waited, policemen – including Officer Cop, the policeman who had ticketed #1 Son – entered and took seats against the side wall. Some of them called over the accused people and had conferences with them. Officer Cop mostly sat rolling his eyes and looking like he couldn’t believe any of the accused could have been so stupid.

What are they talking about? #1 Son asked me. No idea, I replied. The court clerk, who was sitting next to the high seat where the judge would be, looked up and said, If any of you want to talk to your police officer and try and make a deal you should do that now. You’ll get out of here faster, probably.

So #1 Son got in line to talk to Officer Cop, along with several other people. After some discussion, #1 Son came back to me and said, He said if I plead guilty to a different charge, he’ll drop the one about changing lanes illegally. I suggested to #1 Son that he should do that only if Office Cop also agreed to drop the driving while suspended charge. More consultation ensued. #1 Son turned to come back to his seat and Office Cop looked at the policeman sitting by him, shook his head, laughed and rolled his eyes. Jerk I thought. He said no, #1 Son shrugged. Guess we have a trial.

Judge Hizhonor entered the room and we all stood. He asked us to be seated, and explained the process that the court would be going through. He started by explaining that there were a couple of things everyone needed to know because they came up over and over again in his courtroom: First, in Oregon the law states that you must stop on a yellow light so if you enter an intersection on a red you are most likely guilty unless there would have been extreme danger in stopping. Second, ignorance is not, in most cases, an excuse. He then called the names of everyone on the docket and the accusing officers. Anyone whose officer was not there had their case dismissed and was free to go [gavel bang]. I was jealous of those people. Then the people who had made deals with their officers were called up. The officer in each case explained the deal, the person plead guilty, Judge Hizhonor determined the fine, and they were done [gavel bang]. None of Officer Cop’s accused had made a deal.

Finally the trials started. Officer Cop was part of one of the first trials. The accused was a woman who had been ticketed for crossing the same solid white line that #1 Son had crossed on the same night. Before Officer Cop and Ms Accused were sworn in, Office Cop told Judge Hizhoner that the State wanted to change the charge.

Judge Hizhonor: Why are you changing the charge?

Officer Cop: The State feels that this new charge is more relevant to the situation. The old charge is illegal lane change. The new charge is crossing a highway divider.

Judge Hizhonor (to Ms. Accused): Did you know about this? Did you agree?

Ms. Accused: No! I have no idea why he wants to do this.

Judge Hizhonor [to Officer Cop]: You can’t change the charges at this point.

Officer Cop [with more arrogance that actually necessary]: Why? I could have done it 5 minutes ago when the court was hearing the plea deals. Why can’t I do it now?

Judge Hizhonor: She doesn’t agree to it! And even if she did, I wouldn’t let you change the charge like this. Even if you did it 5 minutes ago. She has the right to know what the charges are against her in advance so that she can prepare her case. You can’t slap a new charge on her at the time of trial. That’s not OK. Are you sure this is what you want to do?

Officer Cop: The State feels that this new charge is more relevant and fits the case better than the old charge.

Judge Hizhonor: No. I won’t let you do it now for the reasons I’ve already said. All charges are dismissed. [to Ms Accused] You are free to go. [gavel bang]

#1 Son and I did a tiny, mini-high-five behind the church pew barrier where Judge Hizhonor couldn’t see it. Ms Accused left the courtroom with Officer Cop hard on her heels.

#1 Son’s case was next, but because Officer Cop had left the courtroom, Judge Hizhonor asked #1 Son to wait for awhile to see if Officer Cop returned. The next trial was the interminable case of a man who had been caught by a red-light camera. His excuse was that the streets were wet and that’s why he entered the intersection .4 seconds after the light turned. He asked the officer numerous questions about how the cameras worked, how often they were serviced, how it was decided who wrote the ticket, etc. It didn’t help him. Judge Hizhonor reiterated that Oregon law says that you must stop on a yellow light, so he’d had plenty of time to react safely. Fine imposed. [gavel bang]

I kept both fingers and toes crossed. But, during the red-light-running trial, both Ms Accused and Officer Cop came back and sat down. At the end of the trial, Ms Accused stood and asked if she could ask a question.

Judge Hizhonor: What is it?

Ms Accused: He gave me a new ticket! You dismissed the charges, and he followed me out and gave me a new ticket with this new charge on it.

Judge Hizhonor: Yes. He can do that. It’s not common, but it’s allowed.

Ms Accused: But I had to take time off work and get a babysitter and this is costing me a lot of money to be here. And now I have to come back?

Judge Hizhonor: You’ll have to go down to the court clerk’s room and enter a new plea. You can plead guilty and pay the fine. But otherwise you’ll have to come back. I’ll see if there’s any time left at the end of today to discuss this further with you and Officer Cop.

Officer Cop [standing up]: Your Honor, I have three more cases like this.

Judge Hizhonor: Exactly like this?

Officer Cop [beginning to look a bit deflated]: Pretty much like this, sir.

Judge Hizhonor: Let’s get them all taken care of now, then.

The three other cases – #1 Son was one of them – marched up to the defendant side. Officer Cop stood on the plaintiff side.

Judge Hizhonor: Each of these had the same original charge, and you want to change all of them to the same new charge?

Officer Cop: Yes, Your Honor.

Accused Guy: It wasn’t a highway divider! It was a white line!

Judge Hizhonor: Stop, please. I can’t discuss the merits of your case unless it comes to trial. And it’s not going to today. Charges against each of you are dismissed. #1 Son, in your case this includes the driving while suspended charge. You are all free to go. [gavel bang]

We all filed out into the hall, where Officer Cop handed the three other cases their new tickets. All of the accused argued with Officer Cop for awhile, but he as adamant that they must face the new charge (which to me makes less sense than the old charge, but whatever). Officer Cop, who was no longer doing any eye rolling and such, returned to the courtroom. As the rest of us headed down to the clerk, #1 Son turned to me and asked, You know, this one charge is new, but the second charge is the driving while suspended one that was already dismissed. Can he do that? Good question! Let’s ask the judge, I said.

So we also returned to the courtroom and waited while a woman explained to Judge Hizhonor that she didn’t know she was speeding in a school zone because her speedometer was broken and she couldn’t afford to have it fixed. Ignorance is not an excuse, Judge Hizhonor said. Especially in a school zone where the safety of the children is of primary importance. Take that sheet of paper in front of you. It explains how to make arrangements for a payment plan for your fine. Fine imposed. [gavel bang]

#1 Son [standing up]: Your Honor, may I come up and ask you a question?

Judge Hizhonor: Come on up. You might as well. That whole thing is very strange. Never really seen anything like it before. What’s your question?

#1 Son [approaching Judge Hizhonor and showing him the new ticket]: I know, sir, that you said he could give me the ticket on this new charge. But can he re-ticket me for the second charge when you’ve already dismissed it?

Judge Hizhonor [with a heavy sigh]: Yes. I think he can. [ponders for a minute] But, I’ll tell you what. I’m not absolutely positive so I will recheck that decision tonight. If he can’t you’ll be notified that the charge has been dismissed again. Otherwise, it’s the same as the new charge. You’ll have to enter a new plea.

#1 Son: Thank you, Your Honor.

And that’s where things stand today. To be continued . . .

Knitting by Judy @ 11:55 PM

unblocked swatches
unblocked swatches

Dear Knitnana,

I love the Star Of Evening shawl you are knitting with Zen Yarn Garden in the Meezer colorway. Thus my reply — Why?!?!? – when you emailed that you were ripping it out. Because, you said, it’s superwash so it can’t be blocked.

My first thought was… Really? I don’t recall every pondering this particular question before. Certainly the socks I knit — which are mostly some variety of superwash merino — benefit from the blocking I give them at their first bath so that they photograph well.

And that got me thinking. Why can’t it be blocked?

Animal fibers shrink and felt (with varying degrees of success or failure, depending on your point of view) because of tiny scales on the fibers that open up and then lock together. Wool is made washable by one of two different processes: either an acid bath is used to strip off the little scales, or minute amounts of polymer are used to glue the scales down. The wool loses its ability to felt. But does it lose some other essential wool-ness that allows it to be blocked?

Obviously an experiment was in order.

blocking swatches
blocking swatches

I knit two swatches using a chart from one of those wonderful Japanese stitch pattern books. This is the second book in this series that I’ve purchased. I don’t read or speak a word of Japanese. But the books have beautiful photographs and charts, and illustrations of what the more unfamiliar chart symbols mean, so an adventurous knitter can puzzle it out. The patterns appear quite unusual and lovely to my American eyes. The first book is all knit patterns, mostly lace and cables (often combined). This book is 1/2 crochet, with not only patterns for larger objects, but some gorgeous edgings and appliqués. Many of the knit patterns feature embroidery, beading or two color stranded or slipped-stitch knitting where one of the yarns used is metallic (are you drooling yet?).

I chose a pattern mostly at random, but avoiding the beads and embroidery and such. It was a 16-stitch/8-row repeating pattern. I added an extra repeat of the first 6 stitches so that my swatch was symmetrical, plus a 2-stitch garter border on both sides, plus an extra stitch to match an extra in the pattern – total 27 stitches. I repeated the rows three times, or 24 rows, plus a 2-row garter border on both ends – total 28 rows.

Both swatches were knit on the same needles — US #5 (3.75mm) from my Denise set.

blocked swatches
blocked swatches

The first picture shows the unblocked swatches. On the right is STR in Blue Brick Wall – a 100% Superwash merino fingering weight sock yarn. Every good experiment needs a control. Mine is on the left. I couldn’t find any non-superwash wool in my odds and ends. This is Frog Tree 100% Alpaca fingering weight. It’s approximately the same WPI as the STR. It’s not wool, but it felts if you so much as breath on it hard, so as a control it meets that test. I had hopes that it would block nicely.

You can see that both swatches are approximately 4″x4″ unblocked. I think you can also agree with me that they would benefit from a bit of blocking. But not too much, because this pattern has some dimensionality that I don’t want to lose.

In the second picture, I have wet-blocked both swatches by pinning them out to 5″x5″. I felt that a 25% increase in both directions was probably sufficient. It opened up the YOs, but didn’t completely flatten the pretty twists on each side.

After pinning, I gave both swatches a goodly spritz with water, then left them for 24 hours to dry.

close up and personal
close up and personal

At the appointed time, I unpinned the swatches. To make this a really fair test, I picked up both swatches and tossed them around a bit, as though they were objects that I might wear for a day. After scrunching and tossing and smooshing and all, you can see in the third picture that both swatches lost a fraction of an inch in size – not much bounce back here for either yarn. On a 60″ wrap, it would work out to less than 1″. That doesn’t seem excessive.

The last picture is a closeup so you can see that, despite the difference in the texture of the yarns themselves, the stitch definition after blocking is pretty similar. (I also just noticed that in the last two pictures the alpaca swatch is upside down.) The alpaca bloomed a tiny bit, and the finished swatch is softer. Which is no surprise because it’s alpaca and the STR… isn’t… although it’s a very nice, smooshy wool.

Both swatches still have quite a bit of give in them. I think I could have blocked them more severely, but I’m not sure that I really would have wanted to. I’m quite happy with the results of both swatches.

So I think, by the results of my little experiment, superwash wool blocks quite well. Of course, your mileage may vary. When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to knit a swatch, block it, and the decide if you like the results.

Thanks, Knitnana, for bringing up such an interesting question. I can’t wait to see what yarn you decide to knit your shawl from and the results (which I am sure will be lovely).


In The Garden |Knitting by Judy @ 11:26 AM


And I say it’s all right.

Gentle reader, I promise not to foist too many gratuitous garden pictures on you. But I had to show you my wisteria. It’s on a trellis right outside my bedroom window. This morning I woke to wisteria-perfume wafting through my open window on a gentle breeze.

That and a 16 lb cat demanding breakfast.

After the long, cold, dreary, dark winter, the sun is so glorious! I don’t even mind that it was almost 100 F yesterday. (I think that’s around 37 C.) I’m usually not a heat lover, but, oh man bring it on! I’m finally warm! Today is supposed to be a bit cooler, and tomorrow absolutely perfect.

Then we go back to rain. Probably until after July 4th because I remember only rare years when I didn’t freeze to death watching the fireworks.

I’m really hoping for a decent autumn this year, though. September is usually our best month, with long balmy days and cool (but not freezing) nights. The good weather lasts most years almost to Halloween. September is so good that almost every year there is talk of shifting the school year to leave September free. I love it also because the nice warm days let my grapes ripen. They are a late-season crop in my yard, and they need the sun. Last year it rained all September and October and my grapes mildewed before they could get ripe. I was bitterly disappointed – as were my neighbors, colleagues at work, and friends, all of whom usually share the bounty. Because of the cold spring, the grapes have been slow to take off, but they are making up for it. A week ago they were leafless. Today there are flower bud sprays all over the vines.

monkeys without borders
monkeys without borders

As I mentioned, I did get a bit of knitting time in this week.

As you can see, I am up to the ankles on the toe-up monkeys that I’m knitting with the special STR colorway: Knitters Without Borders.

I’m loving the way that this yarn is knitting up. There is a very definite white stripe, but it’s narrow. I did end up with a splooch of white during the gusset increases. On this sock it’s underneath the foot, but on the companion sock it’s smack-dab on top. Oh well. Adds interest.

I tried something new on these socks, too. New for me, at any rate. I knit my standard heel. But as soon as I started the gusset increases, I also started knitting heel stitch on the sole. After having blown out the bottoms of my two favorite pairs of socks, and having several other pairs that are looking a wee bit thin, I decided to see if a little reinforcement would help. You can just see the rows of heel stitch marching up to the heel turn.

Those of you who have knit one of my free patterns (links to the right, or under the Freebies button up top) know that my heel is a bit different from most toe-up flap-and-gusset heels. I have a narrow heel, and I totally suck at am challenged by the wrap-and-turn method of doing short rows. So my standard heel is turned over 1/4 of the total stitches. Instead of doing a wrap/turn, I do M1/turn or turn/M1. The increases serve two purposes: they fill in the gaps left by the short rows, and they increase the number of stitches from the 1/4 of the total that I started with to the 1/2 of the total that is needed for the heel flap. The end result is a cozy turn that hugs my heel and doesn’t slip or bag.

monkey heel
monkey heel

But it’s also not conducive to having any sort of pattern on the sole that would require matching up with a pattern on the flap. So I usually start the flap pattern (most likely heel stitch or eye of partridge, with or without a garter border) at the same time as I start the turn. But I already had the pattern established on the sole before I got to the turn. Eek!

Yes, I know that nobody is going to look at the bottom of my heels except me. Me and whatever knitters (you know who you are) who grab the in-progress socks from my hands in order to inspect them.

I solved the matchy-matchy problem by fudging a bit where I actually did the increases. The established pattern was Sl 1, K1, Sl 1, K1, Sl 1, K1, etc. I increased through the turn so that the end result was Sl 1, M1, K1, M1, Sl 1, M1, K1, M1, etc. When I finished the turn and knit across the short rows to start the flap, I went back to: Sl 1, K1, Sl 1, K1, Sl1, K1, etc. So the original Sl1 remained Sl1. The original K1 became a Sl1. And the M1 became the K1. I had to cable a couple of stitches around to make the count come out right, and that’s how the final new Sl 1 ended up right in the middle. It doesn’t look too bad, if I do say so myself. (The sole is to the left in the pic and the flap is to the right.)

And now I must be off. I have annoying things, like bill paying, that must be done. Plus I have some real work I must attend to this weekend. I so enjoy our chats together that I didn’t want to miss out sharing with you. But now I must do other things.

So I think I’ll drive over to Woodland Woolworks. The day is just too pretty to waste.

The title of this post reminds me that I still have a pair of socks that needs darning: the Rooster Feather Socks. I managed to blow out the heel on one of them. But I think I have some of that yarn left somewhere, so they won’t end up like the poor Snake River Socks with non-matching patches on the bottoms.

The socks I am working on now – toe-up Monkeys in the Knitters Without Borders colorway – have heels reinforced on the bottom. I can be taught, although I need to be whacked with a 2×4 for it to take it sometimes takes multiple repetitions.

I’ve been sick most of this week, but mending there as well now. Enforced inactivity has afforded some knitting time but, alas, no bloggage or photography or inventions. The garden is coming alive, though, and we’ve actually had a day of hot weather. We are promised another day or two of sun before the rot sets in again. I will snap some knitting and garden shots. My wisteria is really lovely this spring.

For today, I can only offer you this link, shamelessly stolen from Sam Klein at The ZehnKatzen Times: The 50 Worst Album Covers, as determined by Newsday. Some of these are so incredibly bad that they really defy description and it’s hard to believe they were ever published. (Some may be are offensive. You have been warned.) You can vote for your fav. I got a good chuckle out of the cover showing the sneering sleazeoid who looks like he’s about to deliver some particularly bad pick-up line. The title: Can I Borrow A Feeling.

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I Mog Di


Peacock Feather Shawl


Honeybee Stole


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Fatigues henley sweater


Jade Sapphire Scarf


#1 Son's Blanket


Cotton Bag