More alphabet soup, this time a WIP, a Work In Progress, the Blue Teardrops Beaded Scarf. I included a 12-inch ruler in the picture so that you can see how far I’ve progressed, and how far I have to go.

Blue Teardrops Beaded Scarf in progress

Blue Teardrops Beaded Scarf in progress

The yarn is Jaggerspun Zephyr laceweight, a wool/silk blend; the beads are Miyuki 8/0 round seed beads in silver lined sapphire; the pattern is Jackie E-S’s Beaded Lace Scarf.


Scarves Are Boring!

I don’t knit a lot of scarves. I know that scarves are popular; I know a lot of knitters enjoy making them; I know most women, and a lot of men, enjoy wearing them. But I don’t knit many scarves because they bore me to tears. You have to knit the same thing over and over and over and over and… well you get the idea.

I realize that one can say the same thing about most knitted items, but knitting even a plain stocking stitch sweater includes shaping, necklines, cuffs, and such. The knitter can set goals, knit to landmarks. Even the never-ending sleeves include shaping that keeps you on your toes. Hats are such quick projects that they simply don’t last long enough to become boring. They are finished in the blink of an eye. Ditto for mittens. Even plain stocking stitch socks hold one’s interest because there are heels to turn, toes to make, cuffs to rib.

But scarves? There’s no shaping; just a lot of knitting and turning. Even when a scarf includes an interesting lace pattern, even when beads are added, or color work is used, or a ribbed section is made to go around the neck, scarves nearly always bore me. I reach a point on a scarf where I am just sick to death of it because it’s so freaking tedious. Scarves often take a lot of time to knit, and in the end, all you have to show for your work is, well, a scarf.

But regardless of the tedium, I chose of my own volition, without any coercion whatsoever, to knit a couple of scarves for Comfort Scarves-Southwestern Pennsylvania. When knitting for charity, it is usually best to use yarn that is machine washable, and that means using acrylic or cotton, both of which I hate knitting with because they are so ungiving, or using superwash wool, which is slick and slimy when wet (and sometimes the item grows a lot when it is wet) and which I avoid  like the plague, with the exception of sock yarn. (The addition of nylon seems to counteract the tendency of superwash wool to stretch and to minimize the slime factor.)

For the Comfort Scarves scarves, I decided to use some old Lion Brand Jiffy, a fuzzy acrylic yarn, that I have had in my stash for at least 15 years, and some cotton sock yarn from my stash that would never, ever under any circumstances become socks.

I knew the Jiffy, being a bulky-weight yarn, would knit up quickly, especially since I was limiting the length of the scarf to 65 inches.

Pink Lacy Rib Scarf

And I knew the sock yarn would knit up quickly because I was using a dropped-stitch pattern.

Dropped Stitch Beaded Scarf

It was imperative that the scarves be quick knits. Otherwise, I would have totally lost interest and never completed them. LOL

I’m pleased with the results, but I cannot say that I really enjoyed knitting either one of these scarves. However, they were both mindless knitting, which is just what I needed while watching my beloved Penguins lose in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Grrrrr.

A little digression here. Acrylic is, as I said, an ungiving yarn. One of the advantages of acrylic is that it keeps its shape. It doesn’t stretch out in the wearing or in the washing. But that can also be a disadvantage. With wool, you can change the size and shape of a garment when it is wet, and the wool will dry to that size and shape and retain that size and shape until the next time it is washed. With acrylic, even if you stretch it out when it is wet and keep it stretched until it dries, once you release it, the item will go back to its original shape. If you want to change the shape of a garment knitted in acrylic, you have to set the shape with heat, a process commonly know among knitters as “killing” the acrylic. “Killing” is permanent, and it changes the drape and feel of the yarn. It is also risky because too much heat will melt the acrylic, which is a plastic, and make it feel like Easter basket grass. But when you knit lace with acrylic yarn and you want the lace to open up, “killing” may be necessary, and it has the added advantage of making the item very limp–at least this is an advantage if the item is a lace scarf that you want to drape softly.

You can see the difference in the lace pattern before and after “killing.”

Pink Lacy Rib Scarf before "killling"

Pink Lacy Rib Scarf after "killing"

(The first picture is pretty true to the actual color of the scarf.)

End of digression.

If you use the right yarn (bulky) or the right pattern (dropped stitch), and make the scarf short (but not versatile), knitting a scarf can be quick and tolerable. But knitting a scarf in a beaded lace pattern in lace-weight yarn to a length that will make the scarf a versatile garment is never quick. And the scarf usually becomes a total drag for me before it is even half-way done.

Once time I did knit a lace scarf that I enjoyed knitting start to finish–Fuzzy Pink Elegance Scarf. But that scarf is the exception that proves the rule. Even when knitting a really interesting and well-designed pattern like Jackie E-S’s Beaded Lace Scarf, I got bored before I was half-way through and now I have to employ Premack’s Principle, which can be summed up as “business before pleasure.” I force myself to complete one pattern repeat before I can work on knitting that is more interesting, fun, and pleasurable. And I have to finish the scarf before I can start any new project except socks or a hat. I keep working on the scarf because the pattern is gorgeous, and I know I will love the finished object. But I’m no longer lovin’ the knitting. Sigh.

For reasons I cannot explain, I rarely get bored with lace shawls, even when the edging, whether knitted first or last, seems to take forever. Maybe the reason is that lace shawls almost always change shape. You see them grow or shrink, you change from knitting a center to knitting a border, you work an edging. Even rectangular shawls can be interesting. The lace pattern is always changing, and it’s fun to watch each pattern develop, take shape, become recognizable. I have a pattern for a lace scarf that uses a variety of lace patterns, and I keep telling myself that it would be really interesting to knit. But I know I’m deluding myself. It is a scarf, and it will start out great, but by the half-way point, it will be b-o-r-i-n-g. But it is a lovely scarf, so I know that one day, against my better judgment, I will cast on with great enthusiasm, only to find myself falling back on Mr. Premack and his Principle. But I won’t be knitting any more scarves for a good long while because as soon as I finish Blue Teardrops, I’m going to treat myself to knitting a lace shawl, The Spider Queen.

Sad Facts

It’s a sad fact of life that sometimes the better team loses. My beloved Pittsburgh Penguins were knocked out of the Stanley Cup playoffs by the hated (and deservedly so) Philadelphia F%^ers in 6 games. There’s little doubt that the Pens overall have the superior hockey team, but in 4 of those games in this series, the F%^ers totally out-played the Pens and they deserved to win the series. But my boys had some stellar moments in the series, so in spite of being disappointed to be out so soon, I’m thrilled with the great season the Pens had. We’ll get ’em next year.

Three other teams are out of the running, the Detroit Red Wings, who lost to the Nashville Predators, the San Jose Sharks, who lost  to the St. Louis Blues, and the Vancouver Canucks, who lost to the Los Angeles Kings. And the Eastern Division Champs, the New York Rangers, are on the brink of elimination at the hands of the lowly Ottawa Senators, the #8 seed in the East.

I cannot help but feel a little sorry for Canucks fans, even though I dislike the Canucks almost as much as I dislike the F^&ers. Canucks fans were stunned last year when their team lost in the Stanley Cup final to the Boston Bruins, and after winning the President’s Trophy this year as the highest point getter in the regular season and being the #1 overall seed in the playoffs, they watched their team get their asses handed to them in the first round by a #8 seed. I might not like the Canucks, but I sure can empathize with their fans. I know the pain and disappointment of seeing the team you love lose in the Stanley Cup final as well as getting knocked out of the playoffs in the first round. But true hockey fans love their team no matter what. And I’m sure that most Canucks fans will recover quickly from their disappointment and heartbreak and start looking forward to next year. Their team is loaded with hockey talent, and they should be one of the best teams in the league again next year.

Fortunately for me and my knitting, there’s still a lot of good hockey to be played, watched, and knitted to. I still have several teams left in the playoffs to cheer for, the Bruins, the Blackhawks, and the Blues. What is it about the letter B? At this point, I’m hoping for the Blues to win it all because it would almost be a worst-to-first story. The Blues didn’t even make the playoffs last year, and this year they were contending for the President’s Trophy. They have a lot of exciting young players on their team, and they play a physical game with a lot of finesse and some truly outstanding goaltending from two fine goalies. I hope they do as well in the second round as they did in the first, although it might be a little difficult for me to cheer for them if they face the Blackhawks. But the Hawks won The Cup in 2010, so I think I’ll be able to pull for the Blues if the two teams face each other.

Losing is a sad fact in the life of a sports fan, and the life of a knitter is no different. It’s a sad fact of knitting life that even the best of knitters sometimes start a project only to have it end in disaster. This has happened to yours truly, Pinko Knitter. I know it’s difficult to accept that any of my projects could turn out as anything less than spectacular, but it happens. After all, I’m only human.

My attempt at knitting EZ’s Adult Surprise Jacket was an abject failure. The alleged sweater currently sits in a shopping bag in a corner of my bedroom.


One of these days I will either unravel the damned thing or throw it away. It is nothing less than an unmitigated disaster, and I have learned the hard lesson that as much as I have learned from EZ, her knitting designs are, for the most part, nothing short of god-awful. She was definitely into utilitarian knitting, and looks be damned. But she did “unvent” some great knitting techniques, although some of her “unventions,” and here I am thinking of the Stonington Shawl, are at best pointless. My Stonington is sitting still unfinished, and I have to say that this technique of knitting a Shetland-type shawl has absolutely no advantages that I can see. Not a single one.

Unfortunately, the ASJ is not my most recent knitting disaster. But this time I have only myself to blame. As you know from my last couple of posts, I’ve been working on some scarves as charity knitting during the Stanley Cup playoffs. One scarf has been completed, but the other, the Dropped Stitch Scarf, is nothing short of a disaster. My fault alone–not the yarn, not the pattern, not the designer. Just mine. I had made a gauge swatch to help me decide how many stitches to cast on to get a scarf that would be around 60 inches in length. My swatch had a gauge of 4 stitches per inch, so I cast on 250 stitches. As I was knitting the last row before casting off, I looked at all the stitches bunched up on my circular needle and got that sinking feeling. I measured my gauge and found that I had 3 stitches per inch, which means that the scarf would be 80+ inches long. The scarf is now in my knitting bag awaiting time at the frog pond. Yes, I’m going to have to rip-it!

Dropped Stitch Scarf

But we knitters are an optimistic lot, at least when it comes to knitting. I wasn’t discouraged by my failure. Instead, I got out a hibernating scarf knitted in purple sock cotton that I knew I would never finish, ripped it out, and cast on for a new scarf of my own on-the-fly design. It’s a combination of dropped stitches and beaded rows worked in garter stitch so it will be reversible.

Dropped Stitch Beaded Scarf

The beads are 6/0 Miyuki amethyst lined crystal round seed beads, and the garter stitch section that goes around the neck will not be beaded for reasons I shouldn’t have to explain to anyone. 🙂

To be honest, I think the knitting gods knew what they were doing when they caused me to screw up the other dropped-stitch scarf because the new one, being in a lightweight cotton yarn rather than a bulky fuzzy acrylic, is far more appropriate for springtime.

When I was a teacher, I used to tell my students not to be embarrassed about making mistakes because that is how one learns. I believe that, and I believe that one is never too old to learn. I look at my knitting disasters not as unfortunate events or as wastes of time and yarn, but as learning experiences that add to my knitting expertise and make me a better knitter and possibly a better person. I plan to make more mistakes before my knitting days are over.

Blue Teardrops And Pink Fuzz

As the Stanley Cup playoffs progress, so my knitting projects progress. After getting their asses kicked in three straight games, and behaving very poorly in game 3, my beloved Pittsburgh Penguins did some ass-kicking of their own in game 4 against the Philadelphia F%^ers, defeating their cross-state rival 10-3. It was a very satisfying victory for many reasons. First of all, it keeps the Pens alive in their run for The Cup. Although it is improbable that the Pens will be able to win the next three games, it is by no means impossible. Secondly, the Pens brought their A game, something that has been missing in action for several weeks. If the Pens can continue to play at that level, they have an excellent chance to win the series. Make no mistake, Philly has a very skilled hockey team; but the Pens at their best will beat the F%^ers at their best every single time.

On the knitting front, I’ve been working some on the Blue Teardrops Scarf.

Blue Teardrops Scarf

Blue Teardrops Scarf

I undid the provisional cast-on and finished it with a sewn cast-off, and I like the results.

Blue Teardrops Scarf cast-on edge

cast-on edge

It looks neat and polished, and it’s very stretchy. I’ll use the same cast-off for the other end, and both ends will match. BTW, aren’t the 8/0 beads nice and sparkly?

I also started two new, mindless projects–scarves for Comfort Scarves- Southwestern Pennsylvania. When sorting through my yarn stash during the Spring cleaning frenzy, I uncovered a half dozen or so balls of Lion Brand Jiffy, a bulky faux fuzzy mohair yarn, in cotton candy pink. When Barb of Comfort Scarves put out a call on Ravelry for more scarves due, sadly, to an increased need–meaning that incidents of domestic violence have increased–I though of the Jiffy I had bought many years ago to use for baby blankets that was now sitting in a storage bin in my garage. I dug it out, found some simple, lacy scarf patterns on Ravelry, and cast on.

Lacy Rib Scarf

Lacy Rib Scarf

The Lacy Rib Scarf is a simple two-row pattern worked on 20 stitches (multiple of 4):

Row 1  *k2, yo, k2tog tbl

Row 1  *p2, yo, p2tog

Dropped Stitch Scarf

Dropped Stitch Scarf

The Dropped Stitch Scarf is worked from side to side in garter stitch. I cast on 250 stitches because I’m getting approximately 4 stitches per inch with this yarn on US size 10 needles, and 250 stitches should give me a scarf that is between 60 and 62 inches in length.  The pattern is a simple four-row repeat:

Rows 1&2  knit

Row 3  *k1, yo* ending with k1

Row 4  *k1, drop the yo* ending with k1

Repeat these 4 rows until the scarf is the desired width, ending with row 2.

Yes, it’s that simply.

I don’t know how many more of these scarves I’ll complete in the next few weeks because knitting with acrylic yarn is not my favorite thing to do. Acrylic is very ungiving and working with it makes my hands and wrists hurt. But I will persevere and finish at least two of these scarves and get them in the mail to Barb. If a woman in crisis can find comfort in something I have knitted for her, a little bit of hand and wrist pain is a small price to pay. Her pain is something I cannot fathom, and if I can give her hope by doing this small thing, how can I not do it?

Keep On Knitting

I apologize for neglecting you, dear reader, for so long. It isn’t that I haven’t been doing lots of knitting. I have. But I’ve been doing other stuff as well, and while that doesn’t interfere with my knitting, it has distracted me from doing my duty to all my loyal readers, all three of you. LOL

“What have you been doing, Pinkoknitter, that could keep you from updating us on your knitting?” you might ask. First of all, I’ve been watching a lot of hockey. A lot. Which means I’ve been doing a lot of knitting. I also have been doing some  pleasure reading, and that cuts into computer time. And, last but not least, I have been very busy with Spring clean-up, albeit mostly in a supervisory role.

Last things first–the Spring clean-up. My better half decided it was time to convert the boy’s bedroom into a guest room. The boy moved out nearly 6 years ago, so this project was long overdue. We talked about it a lot, but just never got around to doing it because we knew it was going to be a big job. Just as a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, cleaning out a childhood bedroom begins with unpacking a closet that still held baby toys. Many plastic storage bins and many hours later, the DH had the closet cleaned out and reorganized. We threw very little away; most of the stuff from the closet is now stored in the shed, although some of it is still in the closet. But now it is nicely and neatly organized.

The next step was to move the furniture out of the room and get the walls ready for a new coat of paint. I helped a little with the furniture, which required doing some rearranging in another bedroom because some of the furniture from the boy’s room was destined for another room. The DH cleaned the cobwebs and patched holes and primed and painted. Then I stepped in and cleaned the carpet, which was installed in 1982. And voilà! The room looked fresh and new.

Furniture came next. We replaced the single bed that had been in the room with a brand new double bed, moved in a dresser and a night stand from other bedrooms, put new knobs on the closet doors, added a couple of lamps and a chair, and topped it off with a brand new comforter.

Guest Room

Siobhan thinks the room is hers.

While we were at it, I reorganized my yarn closet.

Yarn closet not full

not full

Yarn closet full


And we both worked on the walk-in closet. The DH also reorganized garage storage, so now we have a nice, neat garage with a place for everything and everything in its place.

In spite of all the Spring clean-up, I’ve managed to find plenty of time to knit. I finished two pairs of socks, a pair in Knit Picks Stroll in Cork for the DH, knitted cuff down in a simple 2 x 2 ribbing,

Simple Ribbed Socks

Simple Ribbed Socks

and a pair of toe-up socks in Plymouth Happy Feet in a horrible colorway that knits up to look like camo, so I dressed them up by adding some Miyuki Gold Iris Metallic 8/0 round seed beads.

Gold Iris Socks

I simply cannot capture the color and sparkle of these beads with my camera, but they are lovely. They really catch the light and glimmer like colored sequins.

I also finished another lace shawl, Calico Cat’s Paw, based on the Cat’s Paw Square Shawl in Martha Waterman’s book Traditional Lace Shawls. I call it Calico Cat’s Paw because the colors I used, Jaggerspun Zephyr in Copper and Black, remind me of my beloved and dearly missed calico cat, Loretta. Yeah, I know the shawl isn’t truly calico because there is no white, but humor me, please. 🙂

Calico Cat's Paw shawl

the shawl unblocked

Naturally I just had to make a few changes to the pattern. First off, after I had knitted a few repeats of the Cat’s Paw pattern, I realized that the pattern in the book didn’t yield the same results as the shawl pictured. So I started over again and changed the pattern to match the picture.

Calico Cat's Paw Shawl center

I also did extra repeats of the Old Shell pattern so that my shawl would be large enough, adding a second repeat of the color change rounds. I then finished the shawl off by knitting a row of eyelets, then adding a knitted-on edging.

Calico Cat's Paw Shawl

shawl edging

I prefer a knitted-on edging to crocheted loops and the Brand Iron edging from Heirloom Knitting works very well with the undulations of Old Shell. I actually tried a lot of different edgings before settling on Brand Iron.

The shawl dressed out to about 57 inches square. I could have stretched it harder and made it at least 3 inches bigger, but I don’t have enough blocking squares to made a blocking surface larger than 60 inches square (including the tabs). I really must buy some more.

Calico Cat's Paw Shawl

finished shawl stretched out to dry

Here’s something you won’t hear me say very often. I currently have only one project OTN, a lovely beaded lace scarf designed by Jackie E-S of HeartStrings FiberArts, and knitted in white Jaggerspun Zephyr, one of my favorite lace-weight yarns, using 8/0 Miyuki round seed beads in silver-lined sapphire. I call it Blue Teardrops because the lace motifs, when dressed out, are shaped like teardrops and the beads are, well, blue. 🙂

Blue Teardrops Scarf

Blue Teardrops Scarf

When I started this project, I thought it was going to be fiddly. I had to string the beads on the yarn before casting on, something I don’t like to do, and placing the beads involves reseating stitches and purling through the back loop, but once I got started, I discovered it wasn’t fiddly at all. Jackie’s designs are outstanding. She puts a lot of thought into them and doesn’t just feed a stitch pattern into a computer program like all too many so-called designers do nowadays. With all the planning Jackie puts into her designs, they are well worth the modest price she charges, and that is why I have several of her patterns in my queue.

I plan to cast on a new project tonight—another pair of socks for the DH in Knit Picks Stroll in rich shades of brown called Kindling Tonal. I think this yarn calls out for my favorite stitch pattern for socks, Shadow Rib. These socks will make good mindless knitting for watching the Stanley Cup playoffs. I also have a few other projects planned, but I shall save them for later. TTFN.

Pink Fuzzies

Years ago I belonged to a computer knitting group that occasionally had a drawing to give away items in its “treasure chest.” These items were things that members of the list donated and consisted of yarn left over from projects, yarn the knitter decided she would never use, various knitting tools, etc. All in all it was a pretty nice treasure chest.

One month, I was one of the winners. I was instructed to look at the inventory of items in the chest, choose which item I wanted, and e-mail my choice to the person in charge of the treasure chest. When I looked in the virtual chest, I saw that there was a ball of Rowan Kid Silk Haze, known to many knitters as “Crack Silk Haze” because knitting with it is so addictive. I had never even seen Kid Silk Haze in person, let alone knit with it, so you can imagine my excitement. Here was my opportunity to try one of the most talked about yarns in the history of knitting without having to shell out the big bucks for it! To say I was keen to try it is a gross understatement.

Needless to say, I chose the KSH, but added that if it was no longer available–after all, there were two other winners who were also choosing–my second choice was the light pink Filatura Di Crosa Kid Mohair. When my package arrived, I was a little disappointed that it didn’t contain the KSH. But it did contain three balls of very soft, light pink, fuzzy mohair. I had no idea what I would do with the mohair, but one of the beauties of nice yarn is that it doesn’t go bad, as long as you store it properly. I knew that the knitting goddesses would inspire me when the time was right, so I happily added the Kid Mohair to my yarn stash.

The Kid Mohair had marinated in my stash for quite while I remained uninspired. Then I bought some nice pink Jade Sapphire cashmere to make a pair of mittens, and I just knew the mittens would be perfect if I knitted them using a strand of the cashmere and a strand of the mohair. Nice, soft, fuzzy mittens resulted. But I still had over 2.5 balls of Kid Mohair stashed away. It was time to wait for more inspiration.

You never know when or from where knitting inspiration will come. Fast forward to December, 2011 and my bead-buying frenzy. Picture a tube of Miyuki 8/0 round seed beads in pink-lined crystal. “Oh, wouldn’t these beads look lovely worked into a nice, lacy scarf?” the knitter in me thought as I looked at the tube of beads. “And I have just the perfect yarn to go with these lovely pink beads.” Yes, the pink Kid Mohair had finally found its purpose in life.

I dug through my stash and found the fuzzy pink mohair, got the beads out of their storage box, then went through my pattern notebooks to find the lace scarf leaflet, Lacy Accents from Fiber Trends, that had the perfect pattern.

The leaflet has three lovely lace scarf designs by Bev Galeskas, and one of them, Simple Elegance, was exactly what I had in mind. I went to work and knitted and knitted and knitted. The pattern is a very simple one, and because it is garter stitch, it is totally reversible. I attached each bead with the crochet hook method, which means I didn’t have to pre-string hundreds of beads and push them along fuzzy mohair. That would have been a terrible PITA.

The result is a totally reversible soft and fuzzy scarf …

with very subtle beaded accents.

I’m very impressed with the quality of Miyuki beads. There was only one unusable bead in the entire tube.

One of these days I’m going to buy some Kid Silk Haze and see what all the fuss is about. I swear.

Festivus For The Rest Of Us

The holiday season is upon us. From Thanksgiving through Epiphany, the period from late November through early January is filled with all sorts of holiday festivities. Christmas, Human Light, Kwaanza, Channukuh, Winter Solstice, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Twelfth Night, and best of all, college football bowl games—yes, the holidays are in full swing.

All of my holiday shopping is done, and I don’t do any holiday baking anymore. If I bake it, I eat it. And, trust me, I don’t need to be eating cookies and candy. My holiday knitting is also all done. I didn’t do much holiday knitting this year, but I did make two pairs of socks. The Froot Loop Socks I made are resting under cousin Vickie’s ginormous Christmas tree in Ohio. Unlike me, she can wait till Christmas to open packages. Me? I get a package in the mail, I open it. LOL

The other pair of socks, Christmas Lights Socks, were made especially for The Boy’s sock-worthy GF. They arrived in Pittsburgh yesterday. (Thank you, USPS.) The Christmas Lights Socks came into being because of the Steelers beaded squares I wrote about yesterday. While searching for just the perfect beads for the Steelers squares, I found myself totally unable to resist buying lots of beads in different colors and finishes.

“So, what am I going to do with all these beads?” I thought to myself. “Well, I could knit socks with beaded cuffs.”

For inspiration, I turned to Ravelry, the knitting world’s great enabler, and searched for patterns for socks with beads added to the cuffs. (Trust me. You don’t want to add beads to the instep.) There was one sock pattern that really jumped out at me. It is called Winter Frost Socks and the lovely pastel beads on a white sock make a very pleasing combination.

Winter Frost Socks

Winter Frost Socks

But the minute I looked at the picture, I saw bright red socks with green, gold, and silver beads that just screamed Christmas. And, lucky me, I just happened to have some bright red Socka sock yarn in my yarn stash; and in my bead stash I had silver-lined green beads, silver-lined yellow beads, and silver-lined crystal beads. Silver-lined beads really catch the light and sparkle, and I just knew this combination would make festive Christmas socks.

Christmas Lights

I made only a couple of changes to the pattern. First of all, I made the 2 x 2 ribbed cuff a little longer. I like a 2-inch cuff, so I knit 20 rounds of ribbing.

Second, I added a repeat to increase the number of stitches from 64 to 72, which means that I had to recalculate the number of beads I needed. Even for someone who is mathematically challenged, as I am, this wasn’t difficult. Each pattern repeat uses 3 beads, and I was doing 9 repeats: 9 x 3 = 27

And because of my wonky row gauge, I knew that I would need to knit the complete pattern 6 times in order to have a cuff that is long enough: 6 x 27 = 162.

So I strung 162 6/0 Miyuki seed beads, 81 of each color, in this order: 9 silver, 9 green, 9 gold. Repeat 5 more times.

The 6/0 beads are a little on the large size for fingering-weight wool, so they really stand out. If you want a look that is a little more subtle, size 8/0 beads would be the way to go.

Third, on the beaded section, I purled the stitch after adding the bead on round 7 instead of knitting it through the back loop. I found that when I knitted the stitch, the bead buried itself and disappeared from the front of the fabric. I realize that when the socks are worn, the cuff will stretch and that third bead will pop to the front, but I decided to purl the stitch and keep the bead to the fore even when the socks are not being worn.

Christmas Lights cuff

The Winter Frost Socks pattern, which is available as a free download on Ravelry, is very well written and easily adaptable. It can be knitted with or without beads. The lace stitch is a simple one, and both written and charted instructions are included. The sock is an easy knit, although the beads make it a little fiddly, especially if you want the colors to be in a specific order because then you have to be very careful when you string them. But it doesn’t require any special techniques–you just slide the bead into place and work the next stitch as usual.

I want to thank Brenda Lindsay of Owlsrook Designs for sharing this lovely sock design. I never cease to be amazed at how generous my fellow knitters are in making their designs available at low or no cost. Winter Frost Sock is a pattern worth paying for; the directions are detailed and cover 4.25 printed pages. But Brenda has made it available for free. Thank you, Brenda.

Am I Crazy Or What!

Back in 2004, I knitted a pair of The Knitter Sock Of The Month Club socks called Valentine Hearts, design by The Knitter herself, Judy Alexander.

Valentine Hearts Socks

Valentine Hearts

The hearts in the design are formed using beads. Teeny, tiny 8/0 white glass seed beads. Making these sock entailed stringing a bunch of said tiny, round, elusive white seed beads onto the yarn, then pushing the beads down the working thread until I needed one, at which time I then had to move the bead back up the working yarn to get it in the proper place. When I had finished the socks, I thought, Never again! Although I loved the finished socks, I didn’t enjoy fiddling with the beads.

When I later received another SOTM sock kit that included beads, I put the beads away (yes, I still have them, and yes, I know where they are), stuck the pattern in the appropriate binder, and stashed the yarn in my sock stash. No more beaded knitting for me.

Fast forward to 2011. Another sock kit arrives, this one from Brynna at Draygone Yarnes. Oh, no! There are beads. The beads are optional, of course, but there’s also a very tiny crochet hook included in the kit. What’s this? A different technique for for adding beads to knitting? I’ll give it a try. So I knit these socks, adding the beads as I went using the tiny crochet hook, and guess what! I didn’t hate it. In fact, I rather enjoyed it. Yeah, it surprised me, too.

Green Elixir Socks

Green Elixir

Maybe I wrote off beads too soon. I started to consider maybe doing some more beaded knitting at some time in the distant future.

Fast forward again. Football season. Charity KAL for the Ravelry group Knit Black and Gold. This year we are making squares to be sew together into afghans and donated to Comfort Scarves Southwestern Pennsylvania  where they will be distributed to victims of domestic abuse. The KAL/CAL is the brainchild of ish147, and she designed most of the patterns for the squares. One of her designs, Sparks, based on the “sparks” on the Pittsburgh Steelers logo,

Steelers tote back

Steelers logo

looks like this.

Steelers Sparks Square

Steelers Sparks

The “Sparks” pattern kind of sparked my feeble brain to pondering what “Sparks” would look like translated into brightly colored beads. Step 1, figure out what size beads to use. I turned to the Internet for the answer to this question, but the Internet was no help. Contrary to what certain web sites said, 6/0 seed beads DO NOT fit worsted-weight yarn. Ask me how I know. Go ahead, ask. That’s right. I ordered 6/0 seed beads, lots of them, in shades of blue, red, and yellow.  When the beads arrived, I discovered that my yarn was too thick to fit through the hole. I needed larger beads. Seed beads larger than 6/0 are not easy to find, but I finally found some 5/0 seed beads at Caravan Beads in the colors I needed. By this time, I had an idea for another square using beads, a practice square, so to speak, that had black and gold stripes, so I added black beads to my order.

When the beads arrived, I was happy to discover that the yarn would fit through the hole, though just barely. I went to work on my practice square. Because the yarn was so thick, I had to use the stringing technique because the crochet hook technique requires two strand of yarn to be pulled through the hole and that just wasn’t working with the worsted weight wool. So stringing the beads on the yarn before knitting was my best option.

If you are using just one color of bead, the only care you need to take is to string the proper number of beads. But because I was doing black and gold stripes,  I had to place the proper number of the proper color in the proper order (backwards). Not as easy as it sounds for someone who is as easily distracted as I. LOL But after doing the math, which is always a challenge for me, and stringing the beads, and double-checking the count and order, I set to work. I tried a couple different methods for placing the beads and settled on the “slip the stitch purlwise with the yarn in front, slide the bead into place on the working yarn, then knit the next stitch” method, which worked very well for this design. The beads sit nicely on top of the knitting and are quite visible.

Black and Gold Stripes

Yes, this is the techique I used when knitting the Valentine socks. I don’t know why I hated it so much then. It was a piece of cake, really.

Anyway, since the practice square was a big success, I set to work on  “Sparks.” This design was a much bigger challenge. First off, I had to decide just where to place the beads, then how. This was much more complicated that it might seem at first glance. I was going to use the same technique as for the black and gold stripes square, so that meant placing a bead every other stitch, every other row. This wreaked havoc with the math because, well, the numbers just didn’t fit with the design. Odds and evens and all that. Back to the drawing board. I thought to actually knit the beads into place. I strung some and gave it a try. This might work, I thought, although I was fearful that adding a bead to every pattern stitch in the design (basically knitting a bead where the design has a purl stitch) might crowd the beads. It didn’t, but what did happen is that the spark was not the correct shape. Knitting the stitch instead of purling it changed the shape of the spark because knit stitches and purl stitches are different sizes and shapes. Duh!

After much ripping out and reknitting, I finally hit on the idea of simply knitting the pattern as it is written, that is, using purl stitches to make the design, but adding the beads while working the wrong side rows. I actually purled the beads into the pattern. At first I was afraid the beads would disappear into the right-side purl stitches, but they didn’t. Really, I don’t know why I didn’t do the design this way from the very beginning. I could have save myself a lot of frustration. Then I had to figure out how many beads I needed of each color and string them in the correct order. For the most part I succeeded at this, but when I got to the place where the red and gold sparks overlap, I realized that I hadn’t strung the beads correctly. Did I panic? Of course not. I just cut the yarn, restrung the beads properly, and went right on knitting. In spite of all the difficulties involved, I had a lot of fun making this square.

Beaded Steelers Sparks

Beaded Steelers Sparks

Both of the beaded Steelers squares have found a home with ish147 herself, a token of my appreciation for all her work in organizing this KAL and for her friendship, which means a lot to me.

And now that I’ve discovered that adding beads to knitting is lots of fun, I’m working on a bead stash.

bead stash

Beads can be addictive! Who knew!?!?!?!