Saturday, December 31, 2011

Here's a finished sweater, started winter of 2010 but WAY too heavy and warm in my lap to complete over the summer, so out it came this fall. It's mostly yarn that my daughter bought in Scotland (after making sure that it came from the sheep she could see in front of her) and a bit of alpaca boucle around the neck to make it softer for pulling over your head. Probably will fit an 8-10 year old.

Now about the socks. After I finished the blue ones, my first try at short row heels, I decided that I needed to really practice. I've knitted dozens of heel flap socks, but short rows have me stymied. So, I decided to knit lots of socks up to the heel, and then I'll be able to do short row heels over and over until I get the hang of them. Anyone have a favorite pattern, book or online tutorial to recommend?

Friday, December 30, 2011

possibility for donated yarn

On Dec. 28 the Knitting Daily editor Kathleen Cubley mentioned some yarn that might be available for charity use and asked for suggestions. I just went to their Facebook site and suggested a4As as a possible recipient. Maybe others could add to that, "like it," or whatever, so that Knitting Daily might be willing. The editor is located in Washington state.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

working on socks

I've been enjoying reading the blog posts. I'm not as experienced a knitter as most of you, but I'm getting fairly good at socks, since I make a lot for myself, and now my daughter-in-law likes hand-knitted socks. After finishing two pair for her (she likes knee-highs) for Christmas, I'm back to knitting for a4A. This is a picture of the first sock for a pair that I started Christmas Eve. I used two strands of the yarn, one from each ball. I discovered that each ball is wound backwards from the other. I started with green on each ball, but one winds next into lime, while the other winds into blue (does that make sense?). So the colors flow counterpoint to each other. They look a lot brighter than they do in this picture, though.

AFSC Basement Elves Last Week
*** Good Wishes for the New Year ***

We opened packages, sorted, and packed up boxes last week. A small group of volunteers, and we had a good time together while getting as much done as possible, as always.

Here's long-timer Candace with new-comer Lynn, who is holding Anne's De-Stash Sweater (see 12/18 pattern link below) --

Christy from Seattle came by with a friend to personally drop off her colorful, cheery blankets. Christy was visiting San Francisco with her husband. She surprised us with a gift of Frango fudge -- that we're saving to motivate and sustain our local packing volunteers in January when we hope for an uptick in wool donations after the holidays. Thank you, Christy!

Carol, along with her knitting group friend Lynn, traveled by car, ferry, and street car to get to the AFSC Basement to help out for the afternoon. Moreover, she brought this beautiful vest that she designed herself. Carol is very creative, and her stitching is so beautiful, on top of being a super energetic packer.

A big thanks to all who have sent in wool gifts for the kids in Afghanistan for the current campaign. And, thank you to all with projects on the needles or hooks. We're very appreciative for your caring and generosity.

Let's hope that 2012 brings more peace to Afghanistan and the world. Lots of best New Year's wishes to you -- our devoted knitting and crochet volunteers -- from all of us down in the AFSC Basement. We hope that 2012 is a good year for you. Cheers to 2012! Clink-clink, friends!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Didn't Think I Would

If we hadn't decided on a completely laid back holiday season, I would not have dared to start this sweater right now.

The yarn is three colors of well-aged Patons Classic Wool. The pattern is from Kids to Grown-Ups Seamless Sweaters. I'm making the smallest adult size: 35". The yoke is finished and I have started the first sleeve.

This is mindless knitting at its best. I will post glamor shot when it's finished.

Happy holidays to one and all!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Anne Barach's a4A De-Stash Sweater Pattern to Share

Meet Anne Barch and her De-Stash Sweater for afghans for Afghans ...her free knitting pattern is kindly posted here on her blog.

Anne asked me to post with her photo and link, and she'll pop in when she gets a chance. Thank you, Anne! We especially value an attractive, well-fitting pattern that uses up the oddballs. Great fun with color! Your sweater is going to look wonderful on an Afghan girl or boy.

And, if you don't have oddballs (reveal your madness!), I think it would be fun to collect remnants from a dozen or so knitting friends just to involve more people ... who will also be happy to see their basket of odds and ends being used for a good cause.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Eggplant and orange

I have two new FO's to show for the current drive, both done in rich colors of wool that make me think of farmers' market colors.

The eggplant-color yoke pullover was knitted with Cascade Greenland, a dense worsted-weight wool with very good stitch definition. I have loved this pattern ever since I saw it in Knitter's magazine a full eleven years ago (!) and I am glad I finally had a chance to try it out. I'll definitely use it again. Other collectors of past issues of the magazine will find it in issue #60 under the name "Ribbing Is No Yoke".

While the pullover was blocking, I made another pair of worsted-weight socks with an odd skein of Cascade 220: Cast on 40 stitches on a #4 circular, knit in 2/2 ribbing. This should fit a small-ish adult foot. And now I know what to do with my next odd skein of Cascade 220.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

deadline extended

For those of you who have not subscribed to receive A4A updates via Yahoo Groups (why not? send an email to afghansforAfghans-subscribe at yahoogroups dot com to subscribe), here is good news! The deadline has been extended to sometime in February (specific date not yet established). Ann writes "We just received permission to extend the due date for our campaign for the kids in the schools of Help the Afghan Children. We're now looking at a mid-to-late February due date. Our timing depends on the scheduling of the overseas container and the number of packed boxes that we have ready to go."

I don't know about you, but this extension is great news at my house! The pressure is off, and now I know the projects have a much better chance of getting done. Time to relax and finish those hats for my cousins. . .

Monday, December 5, 2011

While driving downtown today with the radio blasting ...

"In the Basement" played! I haven't heard this song in some time ... I love it ... don't you?

This is the theme song for our local volunteer packers at the AFSC Basement.

Everyone, put the needles and hooks down for a moment ... outta that chair!

Here we are in the AFSC Basement when we started this project 10 years ago. That's me in the pink tank top. AFSC's Stephen is in the red track suit spinning at the end. Laura, can you point yourself out for us? We're a bit slower these days, but still going strong!

We're sorting and packing on Wednesday and can't wait to see what has arrived!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Project in process and others on the way

2 photos to, my almost completed sweater. I have a sleeve in progress and then I will sew it together and send it off. (I knit the body with circulars...I am not fond of finishing, so I thought I would get done faster if I limited my seams. ) This is a bulky 100% wool called Ironstone. It is a pretty purple with burnt orange ribbing. It looks like a size 10, but I don't have a handy child to try it on. This is the sweater I asked advice on a few weeks ago...I am doing a pullover pattern from Lion Brand.

The other photo is a hat from the last campaign that I didn't get mailed...and a pair of mittens. Both are made with Lion Brand Wool...from my stash purchased at a local discount store...for $2 a skein! Such a deal, and it is so soothing to be able to decompress from my very stressful job to create these items for children. My knitting is plain, but warm. It is such a privilege to be able to do this.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Sweater by my Daughter

My daughter knit this sweater and gave it to me to donate. I still consider myself an amateur/beginning knitter and have never yet made a sweater. I am hoping to take that on some day. First I'll learn how to make mittens and socks. So far for A4A I've only managed a couple of hats. So I'm glad I have this nice sweater to contribute this time around. --Carol E.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Hi, my name is Sherri and I live in Seattle. I've been knitting for afA for a couple of years, and I am joining the blog now. What beautiful work you all do! I realized that I didn't have anything done yet for this campaign so I whipped up a hat and mittens in super bulky wool. I just got a request from my son for hand-knit knee-hi socks for his wife for Christmas, so I guess I'd better get them done in a hurry! I'm glad the current afA campaign goes beyond Christmas! I have a couple of questions. First of all, do any of you have any good remedies for sore hands when you have been knitting rather a lot at one time? I've tried that therapeutic fingerless glove thing but it made my fingers bloat where they stick out of the holes. I probably got the wrong size, only I don't remember what size I got, so I haven't bought another one. I'm not sure I would like it. However, if there is someone out there who has one and likes it, I may try again. The other question, is there anyone in Seattle who knits for afA? I'd love to get together to knit sometime. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Warming up for a sweater

While I was debating what kind of a sweater to cast on for for the current Youth drive, I was inspired by Jody's beautiful worsted-weight socks to knit my own out of some Cascade Quattro that has lived in my stash for many years. It is my first pair of socks knitted in this weight, and they feel positively toasty. I may have enough wool left over for a smaller pair. They take so little time to knit that the experience is as close to immediate gratification as knitting can be.

I also whipped up a small-ish pair of mittens, trying to brighten up the brown with some bright orange and fluo pink. Now that I have a sweater on the needles (finally!), the smaller projects have been set aside but I hope to go back to them later in December.

coming up: three Fridays near Philadelphia

My friend Sharlene has a yoga studio. We were e-mailing back and forth about knitting last summer, and we considered the idea of doing some knitting for A4A during the next campaign. And it's happening! Starting next Friday, December 2, and continuing on the 9th and 16th, we'll be meeting from noon until 2 to knit 8-inch squares and make a blanket for the current campaign. It's a good way to de-stress for a little while as December progresses. People who can't come during those hours are still invited to drop off squares at the studio.

If you're near Philadelphia and would like to join us, we're on the western side, very close to the city. Join us at Cerca Trova yoga studio, 2124 Darby Road, Havertown, PA 19010. (Bring worsted weight wool and your needles.)

I am so looking forward to this!

Edited to add -- find a place and time near you and do the same! It doesn't have to be a great big affair, and it's going to be fun.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am so grateful to see the inspiring generosity of Afghan for Afghans knitters. May you all enjoy the holiday in gratitude and plenty with loved ones -- with lots of time for knitting!

Warmly, Kathy

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sweater ready to send

I just finished the green sweater -- gave
it a couple of stripes for interest.  I
followed the size 12 but used ribbing
for waist, cuffs and neck - which made
it a little longer.  I will get it packed and
sent this week.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Almost mittens and a question

I finished one of a pair of mittens -- I expect to do the other this weekend. I have a hat I didn't get mailed the last time. Both are Lions Brand wool I got for an incredible $2 a skein. But here's my question....I have 600 yards each of 2 colors of bulky wool...can you point me to a pattern (not top down) that I could use this yarn for? Thanks in advance....

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Almost sweater

Here is my "almost sweater" for the latest A4A campaign. My six-year-old model thought it was pretty silly to be putting on a sweater connected to knitting needles!

I think I started this project in spring of 2010 or was it 2009? I'm hoping I can finish it by the deadline in January 2012. You can't really tell by this photo, but the sweater is nice and long. This is the Huckleburry Sweater by Morehouse Farm. I purchased it as a kit. It is knit with bulky 100% merino wool. The completed sweater will be incredibly soft and warm for the recipient.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

One sweater ready to mail

This sweater has watched several A4A campaigns pass by. I am no longer entirely sure when I started it -- I am pretty sure it was in the fall of 2009, but it might have been a year earlier than that. I should write these things down.

All of the yarn was yarn I already owned -- the brown yarn is Alafoss Lopi (two different dyelots, but I can't see the difference), and the red and gold are both Lamb's Pride Bulky. I knit a lot of socks on teeny yarn, so knitting with bulky is a pleasant change. I used a pattern by Design from Louise, the Child's Fairisle Pullover. (I was not entirely happy with this pattern; henceforth I will be using the Knitting Pure and Simple Children's Bulky Top Down Pullover).

I made the sleeves and body 2 inches longer than specified, and I started the sleeves with 4 stitches more than called for, because I'd read a review that said the sleeves on this one were too tight. I also did the increases on the sleeves every 3, not 4, rows, so they would get wider earlier.

I used my favorite trick for the neckband, to avoid making one that won't stretch over a kid's head.

Pay attention! This is a great trick! If your sweater calls for a crewneck, like this one, here's what you do. If the instructions say to rib for 1 inch and then bind off, do this: rib for 2 inches. Now, rather than binding off, you are going to do something so clever and simple. . . (This works better if your neckband is on a circular needle, but can be done with double-pointed needles if necessary). Leaving your neck stitches on the needle, cut your yarn, leaving a very, very long tail. Thread it onto a sewing-up needle.  Thread the yarn through the first stitch on the needle, as if  to knit. Remove that stitch from the knitting needle. Follow the line of that stitch all the way down to the first stitch you knit on your neckband. With the sewing-up needle, pull your yarn through one leg of that one, too. Pull the yarn all the way through. Go back to the stitches on the knitting needle, and do the same again. Continue -- one stitch from the needle, corresponding stitch at the beginning of the neckband -- until you've sewn all of the "live" stitches from the knitting needle, one by one, to the corresponding stitch at the very beginning of the neckband. Voila! A stretchy neckband (and no need to try to disguise the jog between last and first stitches that often occurs when you bind off in the round).

Monday, November 7, 2011

Here is what I am working on now

This will be a top down pullover, size 12, when complete.  I am using Diane Soucy's Knitting Pure and Simple pattern but plan to use ribbed rather than rolled collar and cuffs etc.


This time a blanket

After making a sweater for the last couple campaigns, I think this year's project will be a blanket - knit-on block construction like the Moderne Log Cabin (Mason-Dixon). I searched the stash for extra bits and bobs and now have a bag of full and partial stray skeins. I'm going to put the dense (scratchy) yarns in the middle where you can imagine the blanket will be covering the user's core and use the cashmerino in seed stitch for the outer blocks where you might imagine hands and arms will feel the softness. I've made this style of afghan with hand-spun so I know I can tailor the size by adjusting the width of the blocks to make sure the blanket is rectangular to meet the size standards.

I'll post a picture when there is more to this project than my thoughts and dreams.


progress report

Currently drying is a sweater I started for A4A at least two years ago (I don't think it was three). Pictures tomorrow or the next day, depending on how fast it dries.

What does everyone else have underway?

Also, someone asked in the comments how my yarn giveaway went a few weeks ago. Well -- it didn't. No takers!! I'm glad that everyone is so well supplied with wool this year.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Knit-In at the Islamic Cultural Center, Oakland, CA, Oct. 29

Yesterday, we met at the Islamic Cultural Center in Oakland, CA, to knit for Afghanistan. This was part of the program offerings by the American Friends Service Committee for their Windows & Mirrors art exhibit on Afghanistan. We sat in the cafe where kids and parents and other visitors were hanging out in between their weekend activities. We met a few Afghan-Americans who were quite intrigued by our samples of authentic Afghan knitting and the patterns we wrote to document these designs for knitting here. Many have fond memories of knitting in their own families. We showed our slides of images from our distributions in Afghanistan over the years and many volunteer photos.

Local packing volunteer Laura helped hostess the afternoon. We were joined by long-time volunteers Gail, Keiko, and Jun, who are part of our East Bay gang. We met long-time volunteer Jody -- who drove all the way from Davis to deliver a box filled with wool socks and vests for the current campaign. The color combos were fantastic. And, Jody definitely improved our In-VEST for Peace pattern that has problems in the neck decrease area. (I discourage most people from using the pattern. Other patterns exist -- even if they take a little more skill ... better to have a well-functioning garment.) Big thanks to Jody for coming all the way to join us -- we're so glad we've met now, and we'll have to arrange a packing day around a future day trip to SF so Jody can have the Basement Experience.