Friday, December 31, 2010

Crochet socks

Picture does not do yarn colors justice.
Remember when I talked about these?  It took me forever to get past the swatch!  As you can see though, they are coming along at a halfway decent clip.  I have already made an alteration tho... front post/back post ribbing looks nice, but it isn't stretchy the way single crochet ribbing is.  I'm looking forward to seeing how these fit.  I have wide ol' duck feet, but dainty little ankles, and had just resigned myself to socks being loose at the ankle, but it's looking like I'll be able to have socks snug all the way up with these.  Also?  The colors in this yarn are way fun.  I'm glad I'm using it for my crochet sock trial, as I don't knit vanilla socks very well (they bore me, frankly).  A complicated stitch pattern would get lost in the pretty colors.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The trigger mittens, they are a success!

Remember I was knitting these for my brother's birthday-come-Christmas present?  I just had to show them off!  They fit him perfectly (well, they are VERY snug, but that's how he wanted them), and most importantly, they are DONE.  Doing these magic loop two at a time was a VERY bad idea, although I may give the technique one more try on some socks.  He has declared them Fonzie gloves.  EHHHH!  :D

Monday, December 27, 2010

In desperate need of organization

On the one hand, this is a good thing -- my design endeavors have outgrown the little bin I dedicated to them back in July.  On the other hand, though, as you can see, My desk is one big explosion of yarn and yarn related paraphernalia.  I believe it to be time for more organizational devices.  Half of the issue, though, is that designing has greater storage requirements than just plain ol' yarning.  I have to save ball bands, have a safe place for samples, keep about a jillionty swatches safe and findable, and keep my contracts and rejection letters straight.  So, readers (there are at least three of you!), tell me if my plan is crazy.  I am going to attempt to find a file cabinet.  The old timey kind that locks.  Hopefully I will be able to locate one with a big file drawer at the bottom, and smaller drawers at the top.  That way I'll have one (heavy, immovable) thing that will organize both my papers and my yarns.  So, crazy?  Do you have a better idea?  Because seriously, what I got ain't working.

My real ideal?  An old timey pharmacist's cabinet.  Hey, I can dream.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Christmas!

Or whatever you may celebrate!  Here's to hoping your holidays are full of family, friends, and most excellent food.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Seafoam Cardigan

Another new pattern, just in time for Christmas!  Lightweight and cozy.  This sweet little cardi is worked in one piece from the top down, so there's no annoying seaming to do -- when you're done, you're done!  The simple stitch pattern shows off the fun texture of the yarn.  Includes instructions for altering the number and placement of the buttons.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Oh fudge!

The holiday season always kicks my butt.  However, as an early Christmas present to my blog readers, I thought I would share my yummy sour cream fudge recipe.

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
Optional: 1/4 cup chopped candied cherry and/or 1 cup chopped nuts

Combine all ingredients save vanilla and any optional mix-ins in a heavy two quart sauce pan.  Bring to boil, stirring until sugar disolves.  Boil to 236* (soft ball stage) WITHOUT STIRRING.  Let stand fifteen minutes WITHOUT STIRRING.  Seriously, don't even put a lid on it.  Add vanilla, stir until it begins to loose it's gloss.  Add cherries/nuts/whatever.  (I made a fruitcake batch once.  I was the only one who ate it.)  Pour into buttered pan, cool and cut.

Happy Christmas early, everybody!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Acrylic - it doesn't melt babies

Enjoying her acrylic blankie.
I have never heard so much hate for a fiber as I have for acrylic.  I am going to have to break this down if I want to come out even remotely coherent.  So, the main complaints about acrylic are:
  • it doesn't breathe.
  • it doesn't actually insulate you, it just makes you sweaty. 
  • it melts when it gets hot.
  • it feels like plastic.
  • it is really staticy.
  • it is impossible to block, at all. 
Now, the idea that acrylic doesn't breathe is kind of silly.  It is not like wrapping yourself in plastic wrap, as some have claimed.  Look at any knit fabric -- there are holes!  It just doesn't breathe as well as wool or cotton do.  Which brings me to point two -- acrylic does so insulate you.  Just, again, not as well as wool does.  Acrylic does in fact melt, but only when it is very, VERY hot... if you are hot enough that your acrylic sweater/baby blanket/whatever is melting, you have bigger problems than melty plastic stuff.  The feel of acrylic is a little more involved.  Some of it does indeed feel plasticy.  Some of it is scratchy.  But some wool is scratchy and unpleasant, too, and there are MANY textures of acrylic.  To pick two at random, Bernat Softee Baby is soft enough for premies... Red Heart Super Saver is, shall we say, NOT.  As for the static, it depends, really.  Man made fiber + man made fiber does indeed generate a ton of static.  But it's not going to set off sparks against your cotton sheets.

Blocking acrylic gets it's own paragraph.  You CAN block it.  To do it, you have to get it hot enough that it JUST begins to melt.  I do this by shooting it with jets of steam with my iron.  Blocking acrylic is irrevocable.  Because you are actually changing the structure of the fibers, it will never go back the way wool does.  This can be a good thing (you never have to block it again) or a bad thing (if you screw up, you're stuck with it).

Advantages of acrylic?  It is incredibly easy care.  The only way I've figured out to ruin it by washing is to put it in the "sanitize" cycle on my washing machine, which basically blocked it for me.  Would have been nice if it were a shawl, baby blankets not so much.  Because of this, it's GREAT for baby stuff.  Seriously, babies have gooey stuff coming out from all ends, and it's nice to just be able to throw it in the washing machine and not worry about it.  It is fairly hypoallergenic, as well, and comes in a wide range of textures to suit just about anybody's preference.  But for me, the biggest advantage is it's general indestructibility.  As an example, I have an afghan that was made by my great-grandmother when acrylic was the hot new thing.  It is in PERFECT condition, in spite of years of use followed by years in an attic in California.  Wool would have attracted moths or carpet beetles, or simply succumbed to the temperature extremes, years ago.

So, do I like acrylic as much as I do wool?  Personally, no.  But I will always craft with acrylic and acrylic blends.  The unique properties of the fiber mean that there are some things that are just better made from a nice acrylic.  There are also some things that are just better made from Red Heart Super Saver (seriously, it is FAB for toys).  All yarn has a place!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Knitting

Well, the magazine project is in the mail, out of my hands, and theoretically this would mean that I have more time for all the other things.  Just now, not so much the case.  For the first time ever, I have committed to having a project ready in time to be a Christmas gift.  I will never be doing so again.  Behold, the trigger mittens of doom:
Yes, I am doing them two at a time magic loop, except that I'm using DPNs for the thumb (and probably for the one finger, when I get to that point).  The very fact that these mittens are not currently on FIRE is proof that I do in fact like my brother, they fill me with that much rage.  They are going to be very nice gloves.  But if he has any complaints about them (fairly unlikely, he is quite knitworthy), I cannot be held responsible for my actions.

In design news, it appears that everybody else likes my Evergreen Gloves as much as I do, which makes me extra excited to be working on another fingerless glove pattern.  Hopefully they will go into testing shortly after Christmas.  I'm also waiting with baited breath to see if my Galaxy Socks will be part of the Knitpicks IDP program.  Theoretically I'm taking a break.  Workaholic much.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Do you tweet?

For your convenience, I am now on Twitter @marudesigns.  Content will be identical (or nearly identical) to my Facebook page, but for those of you who prefer Twitter, now it will be there as well.

Friday, December 10, 2010


My first knit pattern in awhile!  I just sent the package off to get these (hopefully) listed on Knitpicks, but in the meantime, the pattern is available on Ravelry for $1.99.  The heel flap and toe are in eye of partridge stitch for visual interest and added durability, and the textured lace pattern is fun and easy to memorize.  Worked from the cuff down.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Berocco Weekend

Six balls of Weekend in Cerulean.
Yeah, the days of the snazzy tagline in my review titles may be numbered.  I actually ended up with Weekend as a last second switch out - the yarn I had requested (Berocco Touche) will be discontinued by the time my pattern is released, and it makes little sense to design in a discontinued yarn.  The similarities between the two are actually remarkable.  Both are cable plied, worsted weight, cotton blend yarns that come mostly in warm spring/summer sorts of colors.

Weekend is 75% acrylic and 25% cotton, soft, and very round.  It has very little stretch to it.  The big interesting bit of this yarn is its structure - as I said before, it's cable plied.  That means that the tiny plies were plied together, then those plied pieces were plied into the final yarn.  This makes a yarn that is very durable, very round, and frankly, kind of splitty.  That being said, the texture of it is pretty nice, particularly in a simple pattern like stockinette or garter stitch.  Ironically enough, I don't like cable plied yarns for cables.

Do you have something you want me to review? Needles? Yarn? Notions? Drop me a line! marusempai at gmail dot com. Put "Maru reviews" in the subject line.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Construction again, pardon my dust.

You may have noticed, but between bursts of frantic knitting I'm trying to give the blog a bit of a face lift.  The old way was cute, but it was just a template, and I'd like my blog to have a bit of a more unique look to it.  Hopefully, I will stop moving things about in the next couple of days.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


As you may have noticed, I've made a Facebook page, if anyone cares to follow me over there.  If you don't, anything really important will be posted here as well, but I figured it would be convenient to have another venue.

On a related tangent, if things get very quiet around here, it is because I used up my whole post buffer while I was on vacation, and have a LOT of knitting to do if I'm going to meet my next couple of deadlines.  As usual, I need to learn to knit faster!