When does a work in progress (WIP) become an unfinished object (UFO)?
I hesitate to give any of my knitting projects UFO status.

A UFO sounds so, well, evasive.

I only wear handknitted socks.

About 10 year ago I knitted my first pair of handknitted socks. Like many new sock knitters, I was fascinated by the way the heel magically takes shape. And I loved the way they fit my feet without binding at the top of the leg. So much more comfortable than the ones I bought at the department store! So I knit another pair. And I was equally fascinated by the heel turn and the comfortable fit. And I discovered that if wool socks are left to air for a day or two, they don’t need to be washed after each wearing. How about that?—less laundry and more comfort. So I knit another pair, then another, then another, then, well, you get the idea.

Socks quickly became my favorite knitting project. They are portable, they are quick to knit, and there are hundreds of great sock yarns to choose from (superwash wool can be machine washed along with jeans, then left to air dry). I find that although I’m conservative in my dress (mostly mud, olive, and burgundy tones), I will happily wear any color or pattern on my feet. And I truly love working with double-pointed needles. So whenever I need a portable project or one that doesn’t require much concentration (like when I travel or watch movies or knit with friends), I knit a pair of socks. Even though I give away many pairs as gifts, I make sure that I always have enough for myself.

When I take a break from writing and editing today, I plan to cast on a pair of socks with this beautiful 100% superwash merino (notice the bright yellow!) from The Sanquine Gryphon (www.sanguinegryphon.com).

Can you believe that in all the years I’ve been knitting, I have knitted only one shawl (and that was under duress for a staff project for Fall 1998 issue of Interweave Knits). Truth be told, I never thought of myself as a shawl person. But after shivering at my desk and at workshops and during knitting groups while my friends were snuggly wrapped in shawls, I decided that I must be missing something good. So, when I attended Clara Parkes’ Knitter’s Review Retreat last fall, I challenged myself to finally knit myself(!) a shawl.

I found the perfect yarn from Briar Rose (www.briarosefibers.net)—a luscious laceweight blend of 50% merino and 50% tencel called sea pearl—and the perfect pattern—Anne Hanson’s (www.knitspot.com) Boxleaf Triangle shawl. To mark the momentous occasion, Anne Hanson took a photo of me making the purchase (do I really look that awful?). There was no going back.

When I got home, I lovingly tucked the yarn and pattern in my stash while I finished (and started) other projects. But I’ve been nursing a cold (read that making excuses to do anything but sleep as much as possible) for the past few days and concluded that now was the time to start. Unfortunately, my head wasn’t clear enough to read lace charts and I had several false starts. But I’m happy to say that I’ve worked through a couple of pattern repeats and am most excited about the prospect.

Why are there two different colored tips on my circular needles, you ask? Many years ago I discovered that because I knit much tighter than I purl, my stitches are more uniform if I use a size larger needle for the knit rows. My set of Boye interchangeable needles lets me put together unmatched circular needles—in this case, size 7 (green) for right-side knit rows and size 6 (red) for wrong-side purl rows. Perfect!

I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

When Abby Franquemont (http://www.abbysyarns.com/) gave me two skeins of her precious handspun yarn to make a pair of socks last fall, I vowed to knit them right away. I did wind it into balls, but, well, one thing led to another and before I knew it, several months had passed. When I photographed the yarn last week for a blog post (Why I’m a Spoiled Brat—#2), I decided it was high time to get started.

Like a good knitter, I knitted a swatch to determine the needle size. I started on size U.S 5, but the fabric was too loose for my liking.

So I swtiched to size U.S. 3 needles for a nice snug gauge of 7 stitches per inch.
Because I knew that I’d never get more of the same yarn and because I wanted to be sure not to run out, I decided to knit these socks from the toe up. I followed the general pattern for toe-up socks that I wrote for the Beyond the Basics article in the Summer 2007 issue of Interweave Knits (Working Socks from the Toe Up; pages 24 to 29). I worked my favorite k3, p1 rib across the instep, then tried on the sock to tell when it was time to start the short-row heel.

After the heel, I continued the rib pattern all around the leg and finished with an elastic sewn bind-off—thank you Elizabeth Zimmermann. There was even yarn to spare. (I used markers to count rows along the foot and leg so that both socks would be the same size.)

To block, I soaked the socks for 20 mintues.

Then I spun out the excess water on the spin cycle of my washing machine and put the socks on blockers to dry.

There are a couple of interesting things about this particular pair of socks:

  1. I was so worried that there might not be enough yarn that I left very little tail when casting on. It wasn’t until the first sock was nearly done that I realized that the bit of charcoal yarn at the tips of the toe must have the been the leader yarn Abby used when she began spinning the yarn—it doesn’t appear anywhere else in the skein. It’s a nice reminder that this is handspun yarn.
  2. Although the color patterning is different for each foot, it is remarkably similar along the legs. How did Abby manage that?!

I’m teaching a workshop on knitting socks from the toe up this weekend. I’ll keep this pair pristine to use as an example, but then I plan to wear them until they wear out.

Because I’m a freelance editor, I get to work at home. This means that I can set my own hours, I don’t have to fight rush-hour traffic, I have no noisy office mates (except when my dear husband decides to work at home), and I don’t have to follow a dress code. On snowy days like today, that’s particularly welcome! (Note to self: Remember to tell the kids to shovel the walk after school.)

When I started working at Interweave Press, I thought that photo shoots were the most glamorous aspect of magazine work—the lights, the action, the camera! But it only took me about half a day to realize that taking photos is the hardest part of any publication. Whereas the text requires adequate sentence structure, grammar, and spelling (all of which can be done from the comfort of a chair in a heated room), the photos require so many things to be perfect—the lights, the action, the camera, as well as the model, the setting, the fit of the garment, the styling, etc., and most unpredictable, the weather.

Take last week for example. As the editor of an upcoming knitting book (the title of which I cannot reveal so don’t ask), I attended the photo shoot at the historic Boettcher Mansion on top of Lookout Mountain in Golden, Colorado.

To begin, the stylist laid out wardrobe choices.

The make-up artist laid out her wares.

The photographer and his assistants set up their equipment.

Although it’s not unusual for Colorado temps to hit the 60s in February, the high was in the upper 30s that day (not freezing, but close). But the show must go on. Let me take say that models are saints. They try on outfit after outfit, allow us to poke and pull on their clothing and hair, and not take it personally when we say things like “That looks awful!” And through it all, they look beautiful.

While we are able to wrap up in coats, hats, scarves, and mittens… 

the model—who was a very good sport—has to wear just the garment to be photographed. Fortunately, we were able to sling a coat around her shoulders while the lights and camera were being adjusted. That’s her wrapped up in the full-length down coat (and probably thinking that there’s got to be a better way to make a living).

 

It took me 45 minutes to warm up after that shoot—she’s probably still taking a hot shower.

If you had asked me more than a month ago if I’d ever have a website, I’d have given an emphatic “No!” But this just shows what a difference a month can make. At the same time as I posted my first blog in January, I climbed out on the preverbal limb and started working on a website. Well, actually, my genius friend Lori pulled it all together. There, in addition to my blog, you’ll find links to all of my books, projects that I’ve knitted for Interweave Knits or Knitscene that are available for individual purchase at the Interweave Press store, a calendar of workshops I’ll be teaching, and even a free sock pattern!

                                                     Celebrate Spring Socks–Free Pattern

Check it out all out at http://www.annbuddknits.com/.
I think it’s time for a celebration (as I worry that I might saw off that limb)!

For all of the knitting I do, I have spent very little of my own money on yarn. Once I started designing for Interweave Knits, yarn companies provided all of the yarn for all of the projects. Can you imagine what it’s like to have a box of merino/cashmere delivered right to my front door? It makes me swoon to think about it. In addition, yarn companies and friends give me yarn.

Like this fabulous handspun from the exceptional hands of Abby Franquemont (http://www.abbysyarns.com/). I had to wind this by hand on my nostipinne so that I could revel in every twisted inch.

And this quiviut from my brother, the mucky-muck HIV/AIDS researcher. He was at a convention in Banff, Canada, when a knitting colleague suggested he surprise me with some of the “local” yarn. I’ve already used two of the balls he gave me (one to make a scarf for his wife). I can never, ever repay him.

And this buffalo yarn from the fine folks at Buffalo Gold (http://www.buffalogold.net/). They sent extra when I asked for yarn to make a pair of socks and fingerless gloves for Knitting Green (due out this April).

And this beautiful wool/cashmere sock yarn from Spirit Trails (http://www.spirit-trail.net/). They had a booth at Clara Parkes’s Knitter’s Retreat last November—pure heaven.

Because I don’t buy much yarn on my own, I have a remarkably small stash—one bin of yarn yet to be designated a project and one bin of yarn leftover from previous projects. That’s it!

My friend Bonnie, on the other hand, has the most unbelievable stash I’ve ever come across. she is also an accomplished artist. I went to her house to see her art this weekend. Imagine my surprise when I looked in her spare bedroom.

And in her other spare bedroom.

And in her living room.

Even if she knitted 24/7, it would take her three lifetimes to use all this yarn. And she continues to buy more – perhaps an intervention is in order.

I’ve often said that I have the best life possible. I always attributed it to the fact that I’m the luckiest person in the world. But it recently occurred to me that I might just be a spoiled brat and I’m coming up with all sorts of evidence for that designation. Over the course of the next few days, I’ll share some of this evidence with you (that which isn’t just too embarrassing for me to admit even to myself).

Evidence #1: I am the youngest of four children.

That’s me in the droopy diaper. We all know that the youngest, or baby of the family, has a lot of advantages. My next-older brother’s torments notwithstanding, I had a pretty easy life. My older siblings (especially my next-older brother) wore down my parents so that by the time I was a teenager, they left me pretty much alone. If they did suspect me of any wrong-doing, I blamed it on my next-older brother (and they were all too willing to believe me).

Where are these people now? My sister is a professor at Vanderbilt University. My oldest brother is a mucky-muck HIV/AIDS researcher at Harvard (I’m very proud to claim the same gene pool). My next-older brother is happily retired (who knew?)—I’ll be working until I croak.

I initially posted this blog Wednesday night but I made an error in the short-cut formula. Thank you to everyone who pointed out my error! (This is why I love tech editors.)

A few weeks ago, I taught a short workshop on the mathematics of knitting for the Front Range Knitting Guild. Before I go on, I’d like to thank the members for being so exceptionally nice to me as I faltered at the white board. (I’d also like to ask your patience with my bad images–I’m just learning to use a digital camera.)

At the end of the meeting, I was asked how to adapt a pattern written for one gauge to another gauge. For example, let’s say that a pattern calls for worsted-weight yarn at a gague of 5 stitches to the inch and you want to adapt it for sportweight yarn at a gauge of 6.5 stitches to the inch. Let’s say that the pattern calls for casting on 98 stitches. How many stitches would you cast on to produce a piece the same width at your tighter gauge of 6.5 stitches to the inch?

1. The answer lies in a simple relationship of ratios:

2. If we plug in the numbers, we have:

3. To solve for the unknown (Number of sts at your gauge), simply cross multiply between the two ratios:

4. Then divide both sides by the Your gauge (in this case, 5):

5. Solve for the unknown number of stitches:

Because you can’t cast on partial stitches, you’d need to round up to 128 stitches (if you wanted to work with an even number of stitches) or round down to 127 stitches (if you wanted to work with an odd number of stitches).

For a short cut, simply plug in the following equation every time the pattern lists a number of stitches to determine the number of stitches to work at your gauge:

For example, if the pattern said to bind off 30 stitches at the center neck, you’d bind off 39 stitches instead.

                                     

If you chose to work with an even number of stitches initially (128 stitches), you’d want to adjust this number to be an even number as well so that there would be the same number of stitches on each side of the neck. Keep in mind that it’s your choice whether to adjust up to 40 stitches or down to 38 stitches–the difference of a stitch won’t make a visible difference.

Now, I don’t need to tell you to power of this little formula. It’s what I used to figure out all of the additional gauges for the patterns in The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns and The Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns.

For each project, I figured out the pattern for a gauge of 6 stitches/inch, then used this formula to determine the stitch count for all the other gauges. If there is no specific pattern repeat row-wise, you can simply knit to the specified length to the underarm, shoulder, etc. But be aware that it doesn’t work as well if you’re altering the gauge in a set-in sleeve cap or if your working with a stitch or color pattern that’s designed to end at a particular point at the armholes, neckline, or shoulders. In these cases, the original row gauge is an important factor in the design. (But these adjustments can made as well, using the same formula along with a little practical sense.)