Monday, June 30, 2014

a new deadline, and some yarn

Reposting because nothing happened the first time:

We now have until July 21 -- that is 3 weeks from today. So there is time to make one or two more things! In honor of the new extended due date, I am offering these 5 balls of Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine -- 50% wool, 20% alpaca, and 30% nylon, 433 yds (400 m) in 100 g. That means each ball has enough for an adult-sized pair of socks, or mittens (you could hold double and still make an adult pair of mittens), or a whole lot of baby socks and hats. I realize the colors are not exciting, but this yarn is lovely to the touch.

I will send one ball to each of 5 lucky winners. Send me your name and MAILING ADDRESS (it is surprising how many people forget that) and I will put one in the mail -- tomorrow if you write soon, the day after if you write late in the day.

Send that information to this address: yarnystuffATgmailDOTcom (Please note that there is a letter y in the middle of that address.)

I am making this offer to readers of this blog first; if I don't hear from 5 of you by tomorrow evening, I will open it to members of the Fans of afghans for Afghans group over at Ravelry.

Mailing tomorrow

Although my vacation didn't result in quite as many knitted things for the kids as I had hoped, there were a few. These will go in the mail tomorrow:

Four baby things and one pair of mittens for a bigger person. I will try to do a couple more things for the older kids before the new extended deadline.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Hi all,

I'm putting a few pairs of socks in the mail today.  Is there any more word yet on a final deadline?  I'm trying to figure out when I need to stop knitting baby things, considering 2 days to get to SF in the mail, 2 or 3 days to dry after washing...    also, how is the count coming (if you already know.  Don't go count them just for me!)?

Monday, June 23, 2014


I have made a few of these: and love the simplicity of the pattern. I can make one in a couple nights of Netflix/Hulu watching. I am currently working on this one: with a few simplifications. I am using some Plymouth Select Merino that i dyed with food colours. I will make the dreads with a single crochet chain so it is not so bulky. I made one for my grandson and he still asks to wear it... even tho it it 90+ degrees (34C) outside.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

AFSC Basement Update: Good Wool Gifts on a Bad Hair Day

For some mysterious reason, we lost our heads yesterday in the AFSC Basement while opening packages from across the country (and a few from Canada) -- Jill is cradling 24 pairs of exquisite socks knit by Anne D. --

Teresa (who is also our volunteer blog admin) is showing off Kathy's super mittens with the ribbing at the wrist and then longer arms for extra warmth (called gauntlets?) --

Louise in Orange, CA, sent us a rainbow of luxuriously ribbed baby hats --

Christy in the Pacific NW dropped off a box of multi-flavored Frango chocolates when she was in town. The chocolates are for the hard-working Basement volunteers, and the multi-flavored wool socks are for cold feet in Afghanistan. We promise not to mix up who gets what --

Laura, Antje, and Annette were also volunteering in the AFSC Basement yesterday. We did leave some Frangos for the next packing session.

Thank you to all who have sent in packages of wool socks, hats, and mittens for 7 years to adult and socks and hats for the Baby Shower. Everything we have received is first-class and will be deeply valued by the recipients in the winter.

As of yesterday, for the Baby Shower, we have about 100 pairs of wool baby socks and 40 wool baby hats. Based on our past experiences, we estimated that we could offer thousands of socks and items to the Malalai Women's Maternity hospital in Kabul. They deliver about 85 babies every day.

Please let your fiber friends -- online and off -- know about the need for wool socks and hats for babies so we can deliver!

Click here for campaign details on our website.

Friday, June 20, 2014

I have* finally* finished my most difficult sock pattern to date--for myself--so I am eager to whip out some quick baby things.  What do we need more of, socks or hats?  Or do we know yet?

Monday, June 16, 2014

another sock pattern

I was skimming entries on the Ravelry group Fans of afghans for Afghans and stumbled across a nice-looking baby sock. This one uses a light worsted, and the ribbing helps it stay on -- it is the Ribbed Far-Away Baby Socks pattern, which made its debut on this very blog in 2008.

I will post a picture as soon as I have made a pair -- or you can wander over to Ravelry and take a look. A total of 383 projects have been posted there.

Friday, June 13, 2014

June baby shower: a quick hat

Happy Friday the 13th!

We are almost halfway through June, which means we're almost halfway through the available knitting days for the baby shower. Here is a very speedy hat, in case you thought you didn't have time. (Hate double-pointed needles? I tell you how to knit it flat at the end.)

I tend to knit very plain things for afghans for Afghans -- not because I don't think the Afghan kids aren't worthy of my "best," but because by doing that I can finish more things, so more kids get something warm. This hat is as plain as it gets.

I am starting one now, and will add the picture later today -- it goes that fast.

edited to add this picture (the hat is actually a beautiful clear red, but I haven't been able to get the camera to agree)
Worsted weight rollbrim baby hat

Materials: 1 ball worsted weight yarn such as Cascade 220, Galway, or Paton's Classic Merino (will make more than one hat)
double-pointed needles of size needed to get 5 stitches per inch (20 sts/10 cm)

edited to add: the yarn I picked out of the odds & ends box was a little thinner and knit up at 6 sts/inch, giving me a hat that's just about 11 inches around, perfect for a newborn. I wrote the pattern to make a hat a little larger, so it will fit for longer. Remember -- these babies are not going home to piles and piles of new clothes, so the longer something lasts, the better.

Cast on 64 stitches. Join to knit in the round, being careful not to twist.

Work in stockinette (knit every round) until hat measures 5 inches (12.5 cm) from cast-on edge.
Work crown decreases:

Rnd 1: *k6, k2 tog,* repeat from * to * around (56 sts remain)
Rnd 2: knit
Rnd 3:*k5, k2 tog,* repeat from * to * around (48 sts remain)
Rnd 4: knit
Rnd 5: *k4, k2 tog,* repeat from * to * around (40 sts remain)
Rnd 6: knit
Rnd 7: *k3, k2 tog,* repeat from * to * around (32 sts remain)
Rnd 8: *k2, k2 tog,* repeat from * to * around (24 sts remain)
Rnd 9: *k1, k2 tog,* repeat from * to * around (16 sts remain)
Rnd 10: k2 tog all the way around (8 sts remain)

Break yarn and thread through the remaining 8 stitches, drawing thread tight. Pull yarn to the inside of the hat through the center of those stitches. Weave in ends.

To work flat: Follow instructions as written, EXCEPT work stockinette as knit one row, purl one row. When you get to the crown decreases, work rows 2, 4, and 6 as purl rows. Work decrease rows 8 and 10 on the purl side, as purl stitches. Break the yarn, leaving a tail long enough to sew up the seam. Draw the yarn through the remaining 8 stitches, and then sew a flat seam to finish the hat. Use mattress stitch or a whip stitch -- something that will leave as little bulk as possible, to make it more comfortable.

Want to control how far the rollbrim rolls? Here are two ways to do that:

(1) work the first 6 rows on needles one size smaller, or
(2) Work 6 rows, then insert a garter ridge as follows:
     (a) if working in the round, purl 1 round
     (b) if working flat, knit the 7th row instead of purling it. Then return to stockinette.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

My favorite sock recipe

Thank you, Elizabeth D., for pushing me ever so gently into the world of knitting socks a couple of years ago.  All it took, really, besides your encouragement (that was key!) was the right yarn, the right size needles and a simple how-to book. Making simple socks has provided me enough pleasure so far that I haven't yet ventured on to more sophisticated patterns. For now, I am sticking with stockinette or simple ribbed socks.

Knitters looking for a basic sock pattern are certain to like Susan B. Anderson's blog post, "How I Make My Socks."  It is very clear and reliable. If like me, you choose to use 2 circulars or the Magic Loop method, your stitches will be distributed differently on the needles, but that is easy to figure out. I use Susan's stitch numbers when I make socks for myself or for an older teen/adult size for afghans For Afghans.

For the current baby sock campaign, I looked around the web, using Ravelry pattern search engine to find free baby sock patterns, just so I would have a sense of how many stitches to start with. Once I looked at a few of them, I figured out my own "recipe". With sock weight yarn, I cast on 36 sts on a size #1 circular needle. As I mentioned before, I stop to tretch my new stitches every 4 or 5 sts. It really makes a difference. In response to a recent comment here -- I have tried casting on a larger size needle, which didn't work. What matters most here is the length of yarn in between two stitches. (The larger needle method works better for binding off in my experience, but only if I go several sizes bigger)

Back to the baby socks: using either sock yarn or fingering-weight wool, I cast on 36 sts, work in either 1/1 or 2/2 ribbing for 6 rounds, then switch to stockinette.  When the leg is about 3" long, it is time to start on the heel flap. Working on 18 sts, I follow Susan Anderson's method exactly. You may decide that a baby is not going to need the reinforced heel that this method produces. In this case, just go on in stockinette for 18 rows, knitted back and forth, slipping the first stitch of every row. Then return to Susan Anderson's steps to shape the heel and complete the foot. I make sure to have at least 2.5 inches from the heel to the beginning of the toe decreases. For this drive, I have made every pair a bit different in length since they will need to accommodate a variety of babies.

I make the toe decreases every other round until I am down to a total of 20 sts, then I proceed with more decreases on the next 2 rounds, which leaves me 6 sts to "kitchener". A fellow knitter recommends a more square toe with fewer decreases since baby feet do not taper off as ours do. Knitter's choice.

With sportweight or dk wool, I cast on 32 stitches on a size #2 needle and go from there. In either case the knitting is fast and pretty easy. Give it a try!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Alice's socks

Alice Kimble just sent 12 pairs of baby socks and 8 pairs of kids' socks to afghans for Afghans by priority mail this morning.  She didn't take a picture of the kids' socks but here is a picture of some of the baby socks:

Her friend also gave her 2 wool baby hats to include.

Next week is one of those weeks when I'll be spending a certain amount of time in the car. I hope to increase my baby sock census significantly!

June Baby Shower: Hats

As with the socks, I am posting links only to patterns I have actually made. If there is a baby hat you love and make all the time, please do post the link! (Crocheters, you too -- I am a relatively inexperienced crocheter so don't have a whole lot of experience there, although I do plan to try a crocheted hat pattern this weekend.)

You can, of course, use any pattern you like. This is just meant to be a short list of a few simple hats for those who do not have a pattern.

This mock cable baby hat (worsted weight) is fun, and the cables act like ribbing to pull it in, so it fits for several months.

This hat (worsted) can be made with or without the earflaps.

This very basic hat (worsted) is quick and simple.

Make only the larger (13-inch) size of this sock yarn hat; preemie hats are not needed.

My recipe for a simple rollbrim hat made with sock yarn follows. The 96-stitch version comes out to about 13 inches around; the 104-stitch version is closer to 14.

1 50-g ball of sock yarn (200-230 yds)
double-pointed needles of size you need to get gauge of 7.5 sts/inch (30 sts/10 cm)

Cast on 96 (104) stitches. Join in the round, being careful not to twist.
Work in stockinette (knit every round) until work measures 5.5 inches from cast-on edge.
Begin crown decreases:

set-up round: *k 12 (13), place marker,* repeat from * to * until back to beginning of round. Use a marker of different style or color to indicate beginning of round.

Round 1: *knit to 2 stitches before marker, k2 tog,* repeat from * to *
Round 2: knit every stitch

Repeat rounds 1 and 2 until 48 (56) stitches remain.
Now work round 1 every round until 8 stitches remain.

Break yarn, leaving a tail of 8-10 inches. Thread through 8 remaining stitches, pull through to inside, and weave in ends.

Remember, use yarn that is at least 75% wool or other animal fiber. Some of these patterns recommend acrylic, but that's not acceptable for the A4A baby shower.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Baby Shower

I am really please with how well these sorta match. As anyone who has worked with self-patterning yarn knows, It Don't Come Easy.

And here's the whole selection. Three pairs of socks and a little hat.

There's a second hat On The Needles to match the dark green pair on the left.

As soon as they are dry, I'll pop them in the mail.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Thanks, everybody, for inspiring me to get cracking again.  Here are mittens made from sock yarn donated by Elizabeth D's friend, combined with worsted from another source.  I find that one strand of the sock weight combined with worsted makes for an interesting tweedy effect while beefing up thickness and warmth.  And don't worry--those excruciatingly mismatched bows are simply ties to hold the pairs together!