Monday, December 6, 2010

Lost my mojo

After working so hard to get Papyrus released last week, I find myself in a bit of a knitting slump. Neither the sweater nor the shawl I'm designing are working well, so they're both in time out.

Otherwise, I had only mindless socks on the needles . . . boring! I cast on for a garter stitch scarf in a yarn with a nifty texture so at least I had something to do with my hands while I was thinking.

And that's pretty much it. I'm working on a shop sample, so perhaps pictures of that later? I really should get cracking on some Christmas knitting--I think I'll make a dramatic scarf for the gift exchange at work . . .

What do you do when you've lost your mojo? (Knitting or various.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I'm pleased to announce the release of a long-delayed but much loved pattern: Papyrus.

I can watch a pond for hours, fascinated by the ripples. There's always something surprising in living water, whether it be fish or flowers. This shawl was inspired by water and the things that dwell within—fishtails (do you see the koi?) dive below the stems of the lacy papyrus blossoms that trail away into nothing.
A top-down, triangle shawl knit in one piece, Papyrus is suitable for the advanced lace knitter and features patterned knitting on both sides. It is available via Ravelry for $6 (USD).
Papyrus requires approximately 600 yards of any laceweight or 950 yards of any fingering weight. The blue laceweight example shown used Knitpicks Shadow, colorways Jazz and Snorkel. The fingering weight example used Handmaiden Sea Silk, colorway Ivory.
Many thanks to Aspen, who not only took most of the pictures, but test-knit the pattern, creating the beautiful ivory shawl seen here.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Watch this space . . .

for a special announcement, coming tomorrow.


You know you are.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Allégresse is complete!

I blocked it on one of my new boards. The whole process was a breeze this way.

It dried quickly overnight, which was great--I was able to present it to the recipient in the morning.

Jane is camera-shy, but agreed to a few shots nonetheless:

Pattern: Allégresse.

Yarn: Malabrigo Lace (100% baby merino, 470 yd per 50g skein), colorway "Brisa." I think this is five repeats on size 3.75mm needles, and I used almost all the yarn.

A fast and enjoyable knit--gleeful indeed!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

More Malabrigo

I just have a weakness for it; what can I say? We got a new shipment of Malabrigo Sock in at the store, and I had to snap some up before other people got it. I have this problem where I growl at people who try to buy yarn that I want, which is rather bad for business.


And Indiecita:

It's funny--there are tons of scarves and shawlettes designed for sock yarn, but I don't think of those when I buy it. I think "socks!" But looking at these, they'd be fantastic for lace--just imagine the colors. And it would remove the worry of accidental felting. Perhaps I should look into this. Rosemary's patterns call . . .

Saturday, November 27, 2010

My mom is the greatest

And why's that, you may ask?

A while ago we were talking on the phone, and she mentioned that an older lady at her church had died recently. She'd been an avid knitter, and her husband wanted to donate her stash to the church rummage sale, profits to be given to the local knitting guild. Said Mom: "I told him I'd look at it . . . I figured it would mostly be old-lady yarns. And ohhhhhh, Lanafactrix . . . she had the most beautiful things."

Mom went on to describe the stash--fun ribbon yarns, some good basic wools, and lots of other nice things that would sell well at the rummage sale. "And there was this lovely blue-green stuff, a whole bag of it--I kept that for you."

Oooh! What is it, Mom?

"Well, it's . . . 'Merino Stripes' . . . says it's 90% merino wool, 10% acrylic . . ."

And what's the brand?

"Crystal Palace Yarns. Is that good?"

And then, a few weeks later, I get this in the mail:

Oh, Mama--you have no idea how good!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Oh my GAWD

So I've mentioned that the Irishman, despite having enormous boat feet, is a pretty swell guy. Several weeks ago, for our anniversary, he removed all doubt.

Apparently, months and months ago (probably while blocking something big on the living room floor), I mentioned that I'd really like a proper blocking board.

He remembered this.

Fast-forward to when I opened my present and found this:

We have a policy of being strictly honest about gifts (mostly because both of us are incredibly bad liars), so I said something like "oh, honey, it's perfect! But a little small for what I normally knit . . ."

Whereupon he got a MASSIVE grin on his face, said "too small, eh?" and hauled a enormous package out from behind the bookcase. That package held this:

Yes, that's a piano in the background. And yes, he got me not one but TWO blocking boards, small and large. He said he figured I could put them together if I needed to, or use them separately for smaller things.

He totally won our anniversary.

I'm excited about finally blocking something this weekend--Allégresse is almost complete. Weeeeeee!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope your day is full of warmth, cheer, and yarn. Especially yarn.

I plan to spend the day knitting this . . .

What about you?

Monday, November 22, 2010

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Blog

I usually steer clear of day-to-day non-knitting things here (mostly because anyone who cares about how many hours I worked yesterday has already heard about it. In detail. With gestures.)

But today my mind wandered this direction. I didn't have to go to work today, so I spent the day getting Stuff Done. I cleaned the bathroom, the kitchen, and the living room. Including vacuuming, which I hate with a fiery passion. I sorted all the laundry; a few loads are already done, and the rest will work their way through tonight. I took some pictures so there can be some later bloggy goodness. I made the crust for Thursday's pies. And last--but far from least--I put a pot of soup on the stove. In about ten minutes, I'll add the potatoes and a few more cups of water, and then it'll just sit and cook until we're ready to eat.

"Goodness me," you may say. "You certainly were busy today . . . but what does this have to do with knitting?"

It doesn't, really, but it got me thinking about hard work and creativity and why I do what I do. When I first learned to knit, it was with the goal of knitting socks for a friend. I did so, and I knit off and on throughout college, but I wouldn't say I was passionate about it. That turning point came when I picked it up again in graduate school, again to knit a pair of socks for a friend. This time, knitting turned my brain and it was all I could think about.

I think the reason was that at the time I was desperately searching for a way to produce something meaningful. I'd lost interest in research and didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. (Still don't. If you have any ideas, please get in touch!)

I think it's dangerous to live your life for others, in the sense that denying your own needs and desires doesn't do anybody any good. But I don't think that living to serve--if that's your calling--is a bad thing, either. I did what I did today because it needed to be done, because some of it would cost me if I didn't (either monetarily through fines for not doing my chores or socially because I stink if I don't wash my clothes) and some of it pleases me to do regardless. But in the back of my head, I'm thinking "R3 will like it that the living room is clean, and the Irishman will be thrilled that I did the laundry."

I feel more motivated and gratified if someone else is going to benefit from what I do, whether it's designing a scarf that people knit for their loved ones or making pie crust in a craptastic food processor . . . or writing a blog post that rambles a bit.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

We're not in Kansas anymore

Awww, missed a day. Oh well, I'm not perfect.

Anyway, back in April, I went to Kansas for a family wedding. Of course I had to check out the Yarn Barn. I was absolutely blown away by the size of the store and the variety of materials offered. The knitting yarn selection is staggering, but they also have huge sections devoted to weaving and spinning, which you just don't find in your average fiber store.

Their prices were fantastic, their staff was super-friendly, and overall it was tons of fun. I recommend it without reservation. (And they do online and catalogue orders . . . just sayin'.)

And did I get yarn? Of course I got yarn. How could I not?

First I got some more Blue Ridge Yarns silk laceweight, because this stuff is like crack to me. The pictures don't do it justice in any meaningful way; you just have to see it in person.

Order a couple so you can roll around in them.

And then there's this:

Three half-pound skeins of DK alpaca--enough for a sweater! (*squee*) The colors are gorgeous, and the prices are unbelievably good.

All in all, it was a fantastic visit, and I'd love to go back. I keep telling the Irishman that he needs to get a post-doc in Kansas. I don't think he believes me . . .

Friday, November 19, 2010

Not-So-Magical Möbius

I don't know if this happens to other knitters, but I'm perpetually promising knitwear to people in order to prevent them from making bad decisions. Me and my housemate were at a chain clothing store when he fingered a machine-knit monstrosity and said, thoughtfully, "I should buy a scarf." I hastily promised him a scarf just to keep this from happening . . . which of course meant that I then had to make one, really and for true.

The wool he chose was this (on the right), a gift from SQ back when she was living in China. (Incidentally, yarn gifts are always welcome, but they will be hoarded for years until I judge them sufficiently mature. I can't just KNIT yarn that I'm given, that would be wasteful. Somehow. In my head. I guess.) It's very nice stuff. But there isn't a ton of it, and I knew I couldn't get anymore.

Because said housemate is a theoretical physicist, I of course had to knit him a möbius. I mean, duh. But traditional möbius construction just wouldn't work for this scarf. Not enough yarn! So I had to cheat and graft the ends together. It makes me a little sad. Maybe I should knit another möbius the real way, just for the hell of it.

On the other hand, I like the look of this one, don't you?

The pattern is coming very soon, but in the meantime . . .

Yarn: Zhonghua Wool (60/40 wool/acrylic . . . we think, 100g/skein), probably about 150 yards. Needles: US size 8/5.00.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What Makes a UFO?

What I'm thinking about today is UFOs versus WIPs and how one moves to the other. If you look at my Ravelry page (Please do! Friend me! I'm so lonely!), I have comparatively few WIPs. Right now, it lists six of them, but this is misleading--both the mobius and the papyrus shawl are actually complete, but waiting on pictures/pattern release to move to finished. So I only have four other projects going, and they all serve specific purposes.

The Irishman's Big Black Socks are portable knitting for the metro or the movies--something I can do a row or two on without having to think. Ditto the Faux Fair Isle socks, which aren't seeing a lot of love because the Big Black Socks are currently filling their conceptual niche.

I have mentioned before that I work at a yarn store (best job EVER). In the downtime, we are allowed--nay, encouraged!--to knit. It seems gauche to knit yarn I purchased elsewhere, so I always have a project in a yarn available there devoted to yarn store time. That project is currently Allégresse.

It's simple enough that I can knit it while talking, and I like the results.

My last WIP is a hat I'm knitting along with my beginning knitting class. I'm following a simple pattern from Hip to Knit. (And no, I'm NOT distributing photocopies. Don't do that, wouldn't do it.)

Being hopelessly kinesthetic, there's no way I could teach anyone unless I was doing the exact same thing. So . . . hat!

There you have it, four WIPs . . . and not one a UFO.

I couldn't tell you why, but it's very rare for me to leave something inactive for a long period of time. Maybe it's just what little Type A is in my personality, but I hate having unfinished knitting. I don't see how other knitters cheerfully leave projects undone for months, even years at a time.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Knitting Is the Same in French

Remember the Lily-of-the-Valley Scarf from way back when?

I frogged it.

What can I say, I just wasn't feeling it. The nupps weren't showing properly, the yarn was too busy for the pattern, it just wasn't gelling.

So rather than knit something I wasn't going to be happy with, I ripped it and cast on this:

It is an Allégresse, and I am very pleased so far.

If you follow the link, you may note that the pattern is available only in French. You may consequently be thinking "what the poop?!" I actually do read French (very, very poorly), but in this case I don't need to read it at all.

"Hold the phone," you're thinking. "How do you knit LACE without reading the pattern?" Why, with a chart, of course! I love charts. They are universal, simple, portable, and simplify even the most complex of patterns.

The next time someone tells you they could never knit from a chart, you have a new carrot to dangle in front of them--bilingual knitting!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Always with the socks

Since it's November, in honor of NaNoWiMo and its various counterparts, I'm going to try to post every day. Think I can do it?

I don't promise pictures, and I don't promise real content . . . but I bet I can come up with something every day.

So here's today's.

I get this thing when it gets cold outside where I want to knit socks. Since I always want to knit socks anyway, that means a veritable explosion of sock knitting lately.

I finished the Be Mine socks, of course. Here's another gratuitous picture, because they're so very pretty:

There's the Irishman's Big Black Socks, which continue to be big and black:

I'd gotten this one almost to the heel turn before but had to rip back to the increases because it was actually TOO big. (I blame the inelastic yarn for this. Somehow.) Knitting socks for him is truly a labor of love, what with the ENORMOUS FEET. Yet I persevere.

And then there are these little beauties:

They're Mindless Socks pattern--the Irishman's are on larger needles, of course (US 2.5/3.0mm), while the Regia are on 0/2.00mms. I've never worked with the latter yarn, but I think it's going to wear beautifully, especially at such a tight gauge.

You will be seeing these socks again as they crawl glacially toward completion. I've gotta develop a more zen attitude toward plain sock knitting.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Technical Stuffs

All my patterns are now linked in the sidebar (should you be filled with the burning desire to knit Mindless Socks. Or, come to think of it, just to read the patterns. Maybe I'm strange, but I like reading a well-written pattern, almost as much as I like knitting it. But anyway.)

(I use too many parentheses.)

For the present, I only offer automatic downloads via Ravelry, but if you'd like to purchase or obtain a pattern otherwise, just drop me an email at lanafactrix at gmail dot com. Each blog post contains info on pattern costs.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Solutions for Sock Snafus

I finished the Be Mine socks--aren't they gorgeous?

I'm quite a loose knitter, and I never swatch for socks. I mean, they're socks. By the time you've knit a swatch, you've knit half a sock anyway. This means, though, that my socks come out a little larger than the pattern would predict. That's actually pretty handy; I have big feet, so if I knit the women's medium, they're usually perfect for my high insteps. This can lead to issues with row gauge, however, and such was the case here.

I didn't care how long the calves turned out (after all, high socks aren't a bad thing), but I was faced with a problem when it came to the feet. I knew that two heart cable repeats would be too short, but three repeats plus the toe as written would be too long for me. (And by extension, the friend whose Christmas present these are. We have near-identical feet.) The solution?

A French toe! I love French toes. They're the best way to make sure you can squeeze in an extra pattern repeat, yet still make socks that fit. I especially liked how they looked with this pattern--see how neat and swirly? If I were to do things over, the only thing I'd change would be to continue purling between the front decreases all the way up to the end of the toe, which would have been some awesome design congruence. But they look quite fetching anyway, I think!

Yarn: knitswithsticks Wullenstudio (75/25 wool/nylon, 450 yd/skein). Size 2/2.75 mm needles.

Pattern: "Be Mine" socks from 2-at-a-Time Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes. Modifications: on feet, worked three cable repeats plus a French toe (from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush.)

It is so hard to take pictures of one's own feet. I enlisted the Irishman for the effort. He can't take a picture to save his life (I honestly don't know how; my camera is as basic as it can possibly be), but he does do his best. I love him anyway.

Friday, November 12, 2010


I know, it's been forever. I've been busy. I quit a job recently, though, which should leave me with more time for knitting.

Speaking of which, this moebius for my housemate isn't going to knit itself . . .

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tudor Grace

Blocking shot:

Yarn: Blue Ridge Yarns Bambi (65/35 superwash merino/bamboo)

Pattern: Tudor Grace, by Anne Hanson. Needles: US 3/3.25 mm.

Model: my friend Allison, who graciously agreed to put on the scarf so I could get some good shots.

We got some nice photos that really show off the scarf:

And some not so serious ones . . .

Monday, October 4, 2010


So I finally started the Be Mine socks . . . and I luff them. I luff them so!

First, I'm in total swoony love with the yarn (knitswithsticks Wüllenstudio). The color is absolutely gorgeous--a perfect purple shading here and there into a pretty pink. It also feels divine and knits like a dream. It's a wee bit splitty, but I chalk that up to my propensity for the sharpest of sharply pointed needles.

Second, isn't the pattern cute? (The color is most accurate in the first photo--the others were taken on a gloomy, gloomy day.)

I'm not knitting the socks two at a time because--as I have previously noted--circular needles are the devil's handiwork and I honestly like DPNs. But I ADORE working with two-at-a-time instructions (or magic loop, for that matter). Why? Because they don't rely on needle numbers. Since I'm such a loose knitter, I have to shift my stitches every few rows to avoid laddering. With traditional sock patterns, this often means multiple stitch markers or an annoying amount of counting. On the other hand, since there are no needle changes with this kind of pattern, none of the irritating stuff is there. Makes it much easier on me.

As you can see, I'm past the heel turn and gussets on the first sock, so all I need is a bit of a push to finish the foot. If only I had time to knit . . .

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Did you guess?

Did you guess what the teaser was?

If you guessed Anne Hanson's Tudor Grace, you're right!

This lace scarf is one of Anne's Little Nothings series, and I'm loving it. Super-simple pattern (I didn't bother to memorize it, but I think I have anyway) and crystal-clear instructions--as always with Anne.

I'm knitting it in Blue Ridge Yarns Bambi (65/35 superwash merino/bamboo, 400 yds/skein), colorway "Waterfall." The yarn is interesting--the bamboo makes it crunchy (for lack of a better word) and, I think, less floppy than superwash often is. I think it would make really good socks. And how gorgeous is this?

I can't wait to see it blocked.

The really exciting thing about this project is that, come November, I'll be teaching it as a class at my yarn store! My boss Doesn't Do Lace, so she invited me to teach this. *squee*

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Another pair of Mindless Socks, in Regia Silk(55/20/25 wool/silk/nylon), of course!

These are 52 stitches for the foot (48 for the ankle) on 2.5mm needles. I think I still prefer working this yarn on 2mms, but this fabric is pretty nice regardless.

And of course I cast on another pair, this time in Pima Tencel (50/50 pima cotton/tencel), color 7779. I knit a pair of socks for my friend Rachel in this yarn ages ago, and they turned out well. These are for the Irishman (which is why they are ENORMOUS).

That's all the progress on the sock front--the Be Mine socks languish unstarted. But as soon as I'm done with some of this lace, those babies are next in the queue!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Blog? What blog?

Why yes, I DO have a blog. And here 'tis!

Not much exciting going on lately. The Papyrus shawl has achieved big blue blob status, although the blue has been joined by green:

The yarn (Knitpicks Shadow Lace) is really quite nice--the heathering is lovely.

And the colors are good, too.

I've put a few more inches on the Lily-of-the-Valley scarf, which I'm liking more and more. Malabrigo is so scrumptious.

Here's a close-up so you can see the nupps!

I do have other things in the works, but for now I'll leave you with a teaser. Can you guess what it is?