What you do not see

Like the duck, all is calm on the surface while beneath I paddle like mad.

Here’s is a pretty picture to distract you before we get into the talky bit with no pictures:

I handpainted this using Jacquard acid dyes.  I thought it looked terrible and muddy on the skein but it knit up beautifully and I don't have a picture of those socks.  Sarah?
I handpainted this yarn using Jacquard acid dyes. I thought it looked muddy on the skein but it knit up beautifully and I don't have a photo of the finished socks. Sarah?

I am working on pattern designs to send out to various knit magazines.  (Hence, no progress photos, sorry.)  It doesn’t help when some publishers change their deadlines (moving them UP a month) – well, except that I then scrap that plan for this quarter.  It also doesn’t help that this is all on spec because I do not have relationships with any of them and was busy with “real” work up until a month ago when I could have, should have sent in queries.  So I am going to submit my finished work cold.

My focus is on three designs: socks, stocking, and a wrap. All are due at the end of November.

1. The socks were knit months ago so I just need to format the pattern per the magazines guidelines, take photographs, and send it in.

2. The stocking will knit itself in a matter of days and will be available here on my website since no magazine wants to publish stocking patterns.  My only time constraint is that I figure if I don’t post it by the first of December, it will really be too late for this year because it’s a holiday pattern.  It’s a relatively quick knit (worsted weight yarn) if you are comfortable with stranded colorwork.  If you are new to stranded colorwork, this would be a good first pattern because it is not complicated.  In fact, my first stranded colorwork was the Christmas in Tallinn stocking by Nancy Bush (which we now have three of…and I need to make a forth next year!).

Oh, and the completed stocking is for a friend of mine (not a surprise).  But more on that when it is published.

3. The wrap is barely started.  But this is the one I really love.  I love it so much that I worked on the charts for hours, went to bed and had wild dreams, got up and kept working on the charts.  Test swatch is done.  Charts are as done as they can be without actual knitting.  I think I am being intimidated by my love.  Does that make sense?  I think so.  I’m afraid to knit it and then hate it.  Or maybe I have the wrong yarn.  Of which I do not have enough but I do not know how much more I need to get.  Because I need to knit up the first ball, measure, calculate, then hie my ass to the yarn shop.

Good thing #1 – Tonight is “sh** or get off the pot” – I am going to put in a couple inches on that wrap tonight or can it for a while and stop torturing myself.  (Who am I kidding – it’s almost 10:30 PM – but I will work on it tonight.)

Good thing #2 – I realized while writing this post that the intended publication for this design can actually be queried as it is still early for that deadline.  So while good thing #1 still stands, I can stop panicking about being done done DONE by the 30th.

In closing, if you are also interested in pursing knit design, this article about the new online magazine Twist Collective provides some insight into pay structures which I have not come across anywhere else online:

“Purl Power” by Nathalie Atkinson for Canada’s National Post (November 7, 2008)

Legwarmers are done and the joke’s on me

Mismatched Legwarmers

Mismatched Legwarmers

Noah loved his legwarmers. I don’t have a photo of this yet – these pics are pre-gifting so those are my legs. He also received a Buck knife from a friend of ours who was laughingly concerned for a young man who wanted mismatched legwarmers more than anything else. But one of Noah’s new hobbies is camping so the knife was also a happy gift.

Mismatched Legwarmers

My pattern is simple but my mom, ever the motivator, urged me to write it up for the internets anyway. Who knows when my evil twin will want to knit legwarmers for a wacky relative? This way she can give it a Google or look on Ravelry and try my recipe.

Mismatched Legwarmers


The finished legwarmers were ~9 inches wide unstretched and 15 inches long. They will stretch to fit a calf up to 16 inches wide, depending on how tight your ribbing is. These fit both my brother and I from underneath the knee to the ankle.


Pattern repeat is 2 sts if you need to add or subtract width. Just knit them longer or shorter if you want longer or shorter legwarmers. I think a nifty alteration – for those of us who just don’t get the legwarmer – would be ankle warmers. In that case you would need to knit them only about 4 to 6 inches long.


Cascade 220, 2 skeins (turquoise and ruby red). Noah’s legwarmers weighed about 125 grams so if you want to substitute another worsted weight yarn, you will need about 150 grams of the substitute yarn.

US 7 (I used DPNs because pointy sticks make me feel safe but of course you could also use circulars)

Tapestry needle and snips


Approximately 5 stitches per inch in stockinette.


Make one in turquoise and the other in ruby red

Cast on 56 stitches (I used the long-tail method).

Join in the round without twisting.

Knit 1, purl 1 ribbing for 15 inches.

Bind off very loosely! I used the following stretchy bind off, found on Grumperina‘s blog through Google. She doesn’t credit its source, nor can I:

Work 2 stitches in pattern (in this case, K1, P1). Bring yarn to back (if it is not there already). *Move those two stitches back to the left needle and knit them together through the back loop. Work one stitch in pattern.* Repeat between the asterisks until all stitches are bound off.

I find this bind off will stretch infinitely and am using it more and more when I need a loose edge. It made the bound off edge of the legwarmers ruffle just a little bit because of how it combines with ribbing but this did not detract from the product so I kept it.

Mismatched Legwarmers


Weave in your ends.

With a contrasting color (I was able to use the snipped off ends), embroider a simple star on one legwarmer and put three French knots on the other. There are few limits here in what you could do to decorate your legwarmers. My only warning is to keep shapes small or loosely embroidered so as to not bind up your ribbing. I also chose to do my embroidery near the edge where it would perhaps be stretched less.

Mismatched Legwarmers

And the joke? When I gave them to Noah and explained my vertical striping dilemma, he said, “Oh sorry, I meant horizontal stripes.” Sheesh! With about 80g leftover, he might get lucky with a third, striped legwarmer to go with his mismatched set. Someday.


A week ago the cold seeped into my bones and I began to dig for socks.  I prefer my feet as bare as possible for as long as the weather permits but once the cold sets in, I want good socks.  Warm but not too thick.  My dream came true when I discovered handknit wool socks.  They are warmer than almost anything else I can put on my feet without the sweatiness.  The only downside I have found is that wool socks plus hardwood floors is rather dangerous.  (Answer: slippers; and less wear on the socks).

As I began the sock-cavation, I despaired.  Many socks were holey and mismatched.  I had my first pair of handknit socks succumb to holes.  There was an undeniable dearth of socks.  I could start knitting a new pair for myself but there was a 2nd or 3rd iteration of toddler socks already on the needles and how long could those take to finish?  (Nevermind the multiple iterations.)  Really, I had a lot of projects on the needles.  And my rate is about one sock per week.  Feet cold.  Cash in bank.  Go to store and buy cheap machine made socks.

So I went.

But the cheap machine made socks are all made of acrylic.  Which isn’t warm.  O woe! (Yes, I could go elsewhere to buy socks, even online, but where’s the fun in that?)

I gave in and cast on with stash sock yarn.  It’s the ubiquitous rainbow Opal yarn but special to me because my friend J found it at a garage sale and got it for me, knowing my prediliction for sock knitting.  She is a knitter also and one day will turn to the Sock Side–after she finishes churning out sweaters.

Being all colorful and stuff, it begged for plain stockinette and what’s easier than that?

(CO 64 sts on US 1 DPNs – 5 of course.  Top down, 1 inch of 2×2 ribbing, short row heel which is new to me but made possible by Cosmicpluto‘s awesome tutorial.  Planning on a Nancy Bush-style star toe.)

I went to this party on Saturday and suddenly discovered that I had knit 6.5 inches on my sock.  Woohoo! That’s some kind of personal record. I might be done altogether if it weren’t for the legwarmers.

Ah! The legwarmers. I’m done with the first and a little over halfway done with the second. We’re having a late evening review of Farscape. Rygel just peed fire on the bad guys. Is that a poor endorsement for one of the best scifi series ever made?

Legwarmers kicking my ass

Mismatched Legwarmers

I’m a pretty adventurous knitter but my brother Noah always manages to challenge me, unknowingly. First it was the viking-esque hat with detachable face mask. He was excited, made drawings, touched yarn, talked colors. I was enthusiastic. This was a challenge but not outside the realm of possibility. Except that nothing I tried satisfied me and eventually the project became a burr that was buried in a basket of unloved false-starts, tying up at least two Denise cables with needles. Ugh. Together we acknowledge the failure and my needles were rescued from the dusty basket.

This time it was legwarmers. (If the project described above was not an indication, my brother is not the typical male recipient of knitted goodies. He’s an Artist.) My darling bro and his lovely girlfriend helped my husband paint the bedroom since I am to refrain from such activities for the next four months and so grateful was I that I offered to knit his legwarmers for his birthday (Nov 5) even though I had privately agreed with myself to not knit birthday gifts this year since I am trying to get other things knit and many of my family birthdays happen in the next two months.

How does one complicate legwarmers? Noah wanted vertical stripes and preferred that they did not match. Sure, no problem, I blithely assured him. The next day, my son and I troupe off to the yarn store for the appropriate colors and returned home for lunch. I spend the rest of the afternoon trying to figure out how to knit ribbed vertical stripes. Let me make this short, fast forward a few hours: it’s not possible. I worked out that I could double-knit in vertical stripes but a couple inches of that assured me that it was not stretchy enough. Other possibilities include intarsia and corrugated ribbing but they would also not stretch due to the stranding across the back. Helical knitting, a la Grumperina? But that would take…20 different balls of yarn, if it even worked. I was done.

I took a giant step backwards, realized that I was making myself crazy over something that was not, in the end, that important. Vertical ribbed stripes, that is. The man was willing to buy handknit legwarmers at the fair trade shop, knit by a stranger, so I’m sure these will more than satisfy.

Check back for the results (I am about half done with #1, not counting finishing work) next Thursday. I don’t want to give away the design now since Noah reads this site, newborn though it is. He’s my blog tech support and is helping me to get everything up and running. Actually, that was originally what I was trading the viking face mask hat for. What did we change it to? Do I still owe you something, Noah?

In the meantime, I have at least six active projects to talk about so there won’t be any lack of fiber around here.