Sunday, December 2, 2007

The happ-happiest season of all.

I am usually not much of a giver of knitted gifts, but this year, for some reason, I've changed my mind and I am going to be knitting lots. Tonight I finally, finally finished a scarf for my dad's birthday (a week from today). The pattern is Henry, by Mareike Sattler, from the Fall '07 Knitty.

Photo   2

Here it is, blocking. The final result is nice, but Sweet Christmas, it is one time-consuming sonofabitch. I did the math, and it's something over 50,000 stitches. For a scarf. Really not worth it, even for a fast knitter like myself. The yarn is KnitPicks Gloss, a very reasonably-priced merino-silk blend that I highly recommend. I may be making myself a sweater out of it after the holidays.

I also started a second gift project yesterday, another Knitty pattern: Dashing armwarmers/fingerless gloves, by Cheryl Niamath. These knit up fast, and are super cute. I'm using Berroco Pure Merino (Aran weight), which is soft and very warm and a bit splitty but also machine washable -- I do like to avoid giving people non-machine washable gifts.

Photo   3

I'm doing small projects (hats, scarves, mitts) for all my immediate/nuclear family members. And I'm really glad I just wrote that because I just realized I don't have anything planned for my sister's fiance. Oh well, I guess I'll have to make another trip to the yarn store! Boo hoo.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thankful for quick projects

I checked a few minutes ago and it said it was 20°F -- ooh, I thought, not even two days after Thanksgiving and it's already winter. Then I check again and now it's down to 19°!

What I'm saying is, I'm really glad I made this hat on Thursday!

I go up to Maine for Thanksgiving at my grandparents', and that means a half-hour on the subway, a half-hour on the train, and an hour and a half in the car with my dad and stepmother and sisters each way -- prime knitting time, except for the return car trip which is in the dark. And somehow, the only project I'm working on right now is a scarf for my dad's birthday, so I couldn't bring that (it's Henry, and it's very nice, but I did the math and it's a freaking 50,000 stitch scarf -- what was I thinking?). I cast on for the hat on the subway (24 stitches, as opposed to 400-something for the freaking scarf) and I finished the knitting on the train on the way home. I hadn't realized how quick a project it would be, so I didn't have a yarn needle to graft it together at the end, so I had to finish that at home, otherwise I could have worn it for the subway ride (um, if it hadn't been over 50° out Thursday night).

The pattern is Urchin, from Knitty, by Ysolda. It's cuter than it looks in my photo. I used some handspun yarn that I bought off eBay five or six years ago and never really knew what to do with it. I wanted a big beret so that when I'm too lazy to dry my hair in the morning I can shove it in a hat and not freeze on the way to work -- most of my hats are close-fitting caps with no room for a bun. It didn't come out quite so big and poofy as I was hoping (my own fault -- I only brought one set of needles on the train and I probably should have gone up a size) but it's big enough to accommodate a bun or ponytail, and that's what I was going for. Plus, if I pluck out all my eyebrows and draw them back in with a pencil, I'll be able to blend in with my old Russian lady neighbors, many of whom sport kicky berets year-round.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

World Champion Socks! Also, an impasse.

So if you are the type of person who cares about such things, you will know that the Boston Red Sox just won the Worlds Series and so can officially be called the Best Team in Baseball! This was a really fun playoff season for me because I've probably paid more attention to baseball this season than ever before, and especially because I got to attend the first game of the world series through being lucky enough to have an awesome dad who is also lucky.

But I also feel like I deserved to be at that World Series game, because the Red Sox would never have gotten there without my lucky socks:

I bought the yarn for these socks just before the Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years, back in 2004. Then the yarn kind of languished, half-knitted into a boring plain sock during the 2005 and 2006 seasons. I frogged that sock and started knitting these ones a day or two before the Red Sox home opening game, and posted about them on the day of said home opener. I finished them back in August while watching (on TV) a game in which the Red Sox pummelled the White Sox 11-1.

So clearly, they were lucky socks. I crammed them into my clogs (they're pretty bulky socks -- I'm thinking I need to get some bigger shoes for wearing with handknit socks) and wore them to the World Series game last Wednesday. The Red Sox dominated the game! I couldn't wear them during the second and third games on the series, but I had them with me anyway. And I proudly wore them on Sunday night, when the Red Sox finished off the Rockies. They're powerful socks! I'll be knitting another pair of fancy red socks next baseball season, if anyone wants to join me. White Sox fans and fans of any other potentially knitting-related teams are also welcome to join in.

I've started a Henry scarf. I've just about finished the second pattern repeat of seven, so that makes me more than a quarter of the way finished. I'm hoping to finish it in time to give it to my dad for his birthday at the beginning of December. Here's what it looks like now:

Nothing to set the world on fire, and very time consuming, but very nice too. The yarn is Gloss from Knitpicks, which is also very nice. I like it a lot. It's an easy pattern to memorize so long as you don't get bogged down with line numbers and things. I knit a lot of it this past week while watching baseball games.

I'm also trying to start the Dale of Norway sweater I've been wanting to do. I've got the yarn, but the trouble is I can't seem to knit small enough. I could buy new, smaller needles (we're talking size 00 and 000 circs, which are only made by one company anyhow), or I could try and train myself to knit tighter. I'm afraid if I tried to knit tighter, I would get less even gauge. I don't know. I may just suck it up and buy the tiny needles, though it hurts me to do it! And the yarn will split like a bastard. Alas!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Buy local!

My roommate and I have been getting a veggie share through the rather excellent Stillman's Farm CSA, and we have been enjoying it immensely although sadly it's coming to a close. They also have a meat share that I've been sorely tempted by, but it's a little spendy and I'm trying to cut back on meat anyhow, so I've stayed away. I love the CSA concept though, especially in places like New England where farming is not all that lucrative.

So imagine my delight when I heard about the Martha's Vineyard Fiber Farm Yarn CSA! First of all, there's a Martha's Vineyard Fiber Farm -- I had no idea. Second of all, goats on the beach:

Goats on the beach, y'all, goats on the beach!

I have been trying to confine my spending to the first weekend of the month* but I'm sorely tempted by this. On the one hand, I might get yarn that's not exactly what I would choose for myself, but hey, I never would have tried beets if I hadn't got them in the veggie share, so I'm not that frightened. I think I will wait until my appointed spendy time and buy it then if it's still available.

Oh, shares are $100 and they estimate you'll get around 10 skeins of yarn -- not cheap, but not ridiculous. Not Martha says the yarn is nice.

*Long story, but basically it's a way to keep my spending and consuming urges in check.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Hanami, and new directions

So, Hanami is blocked at last:
Photo  11

The good:
  • OMG, the fabric is so lovely. The drape! The silkiness! And it is so lightweight and non-bulky!

  • It looks basically just as advertised -- the petal effect is absolutely charming.

  • My "mistakes" in the final dense-yarnover portion totally worked -- the effect is much more random-looking than in the pattern photo.

  • It's done!

The bad:
  • I blocked it out to a rectangle, but because of the relative tension of the middle (low-yarnover-density) section and the end (high-yarnover-density) sections, it was really hard to block so that the width stayed even top to bottom, and I wasn't comfortable with the amount of tugging I had to do.

  • It's not as big as it was supposed to be. This is largely my fault, but seriously, I'm unconvinced of the utility of gauge swatches for lace. Maybe this is just because I don't like to swatch. But still! A 10x10" square of lace doesn't act the same as a 19x70" rectangle. It just doesn't! And I don't know how I could have gotten the same number of stitches/inch in both ends and the middle.

  • It's a little itchy.

If I had it to make again, I'd do something different in the middle. Maybe I'd go up a needle size or two, maybe I'd even increase a few stitches at the beginning of the petal section (leave out a few decreases?). I really like the finished object (wore it to work today, even), but I wouldn't make it again as designed.

New things
So, I said I was going to learn myself to knit continental. And it's going pretty well -- I knit another Bzzz Hat with the yarn in my left hand almost the whole time. I'm also working on a simple 3x3 rib scarf in Noro Silk Garden. I love Noro yarns -- somehow they manage to make hot pink and acid green look like earth tones, and it is so cool. I'm going to start a Wisp out of the mohair-blend stuff I dyed a couple weeks back:
Photo  31
I want to see if I can handle decreases in continental. (I did not have fun with the decreases for the Bzzz Hat, but partly that's because I was doing them on two circs, which I don't really like but I was literally too lazy to go in the other room to get my dpns. I know.)

Today I made myself a needle wallet, because I was annoyed that I couldn't find all my 000 dpns. So hopefully this will help me hold onto my needles. I'm also going to get rid of some older Susan Bates aluminum needles, in case anyone wants them (I don't).

Coming soon
I think I'm going to try a Dale of Norway ski sweater. I really like the women's Sapporo pullover in the red and gold colorway, as seen here. I've been wanting to do a big colorwork project, and this seems like a really cool one. Now there's just the question of yarn -- I could make it in the recommended yarn (Daletta, by Dale obv.) but I could probably make it cheaper in something else. But I can't find any local shops that carry Daletta to see what would work for a substitution. If, say, I made it in a Knitpicks yarn, it might cost around $30-$40, as opposed to $80-$90 for the Daletta. Assuming there's a sensible yarn to substitute, which is hard to say when you've never seen the other yarn. I'm going to check A Good Yarn tomorrow and maybe call over to Woolcott to see if anyone can show me some Daletta.

And another thing
I never posted my finished Blackberry Mittens!
Photo   2
Bonus points to anyone who notices the slightly glaring error...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Big Day Off!

Yesterday I took the day off for no particular reason except I didn't feel like working anymore, and it was lovely. I did lots of creative things! Some of them involving knitting. but it says "craft" right in the subtitle so I will have no qualms about posting non-knitting content.

I made prints!
Photo   5

The apples are linoleum prints, and the pears are some kind of rubbery block printing material. The linoleum is a lot harder to cut, but I can get nicer detail with it, and the edges don't break off the way the rubbery stuff does. I haven't made prints in years. I really need to get new cutting tools, because apparently last time I used them I put them away wet, and now some of them are a little rusty and I suspect all of them are duller than they should be.

I love making prints. They are awesome. I think I might start a series of prints of microorganisms. Geeky crafty fun!

I also kept working on a dress I've been sewing up for a while. I already had the front, and yesterday I did the back and started work on the facing, which was confusing and made me stop because I was so confused. But I have an actual dress than can be put on now, albeit a dress that needs to be pinned at the shoulders.

Photo  11

This is basically a trial dress in inexpensive fabric to make sure that I can handle the pattern and that it looks OK on me. This pattern takes a lot of fabric, and I didn't want to practice on something nice. The pattern is "Vintage Vogue" V2903 -- I got it at one of those lovely JoAnn sales where all the patterns are $2-$4. It makes me look a bit broader than I would like, but partly that's just because I although I would like to look like a 1950's dress pattern illustration, my body dimensions, underwear choices, and posture are non-cooperative.

Knitting-wise, I finished the Hanami stole. It still needs to be blocked, though:

Photo  14

I tried to start blocking it last night, but it was too much work after a long day of craftiness. The middle is a lot skinnier than the ends, and I'm not sure the best way to overcome that. Also it is going to be smaller than it was supposed to be, even blocked (checked gauge at the beginning, where it was wider than it is in the stockinette section in the middle -- I probably should have only gone down one needle size rather than two. But it will still be cool I think. I wish I had blocking wires -- I think I'm going to get some soon.

I made a couple of little changes to this pattern -- I left off the beads, and I deliberately messed up the final part of the pattern. The number of "petals" gradually increases until the end of the shawl, when there are 32 rows of yarnover, k2tog (or psso), which looked too even for me after the messier bits above (you can see it in the last picture on this page. So I just stuck in random knit stitches whenever I felt like it. I think it worked out nicely. When I started my abortive attempt at blocking last night, I noticed that I had dropped a few stitches -- it was not easy to tell as I knit since the alpaca has a moderately self-grippy quality -- so I had to go in and fix those.

If I had this to knit over again, I would go up a needle size for the middle portion. Or something. The stockinette portion is just a lot narrower than the yarnover-heavy portions, at least the way I knit.

And a couple of quick updates:

I finished the Blackberry Mittens, although I don't seem to have any photos of them handy.

Also, many thanks to Naomi and Robbyn, I think I have salvaged the green dyed yarn -- I will avoid green in the future I think, but as long as I wash this stuff with gentle soaps and detergents I think it will be usable. I'm definitely keeping it for my own use, though, since I worry it might just be waiting to screw things up the next time it gets in the water.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Experiments in dyeing

So when I posted about my stash a few weeks ago, I noted that I had a big pile of oatmeal-colored worsted that I kind of hated and didn't know what to do with. Naomi suggested that I dye it, and what a bright young woman she is! I decided to use food coloring, because I didn't want to mess up my pots and pans with non-food-safe colorants. I used to have a pot I used for soapmaking which would have done, but I guess I got rid of that at some point (I haven't made soap in years) because I certainly don't seem to have it anymore.

Anyhow, I used the crock pot, roughly as described here. I'm very happy with the results overall.


These process pictures are from my second batch, which was royal blue with a bit of brown to soften it up.

The yarn soaking:

The dye stock mixture and food coloring bottles:

Dye and yarn in the pot:

After a few hours in the hot crock the dye exhausts:

And here's what it looks like dry!

I also did a couple of skeins of purple, and I dyed a skein of really hideous nylon/mohair blend grey laceweight red and black -- I think it is much less hideous now. I had a failure, though. My biggest batch turned out to not be colorfast. What do I do? I've been rinsing and rinsing, and the water's always green. I'm not sure whether it's salvageable. I'd really like it to be, since I'd like a third dark jewel-tone color -- I'm planning to combine it with the plain leftover oatmeal-colored yarn in a a hat and mittens, and a third color would be nice.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Fingerless gloves, lacey progress, knitting in public, and yarn lust.

I just finished a pair of Hooray For Me fingerless gloves, which were a nice fun little pattern, and which allowed me to use that forlorn single ball of sock yarn that I was semi-despairing of finding a use for. The pattern calls for 1.5 skeins of Regia Multi Effekt, but I was able to do it with less than one skein of Trekking. I was ready to do the fingers in another yarn if necessary, but I ended up having more Trekking left over than I had of my accent color (leftover Jawoll from the Bayerische Sock -- that pattern devours wool), so I just did them in MC. Action shot -- they're comin' to getcha!!!

Very cute I think! I am not much of a fingerless glove person, but I may get a bit of use out of these in the fall and early winter. I do appreciate fingerless gloves on an intellectual level -- how nice to be able to wear gloves and knit and text and work my iPod without having to use my nose on the clickwheel! -- but I this will be the first pair I've ever owned.

Still plugging away on the Hanami Shawl. I've finished the basketweave section and have moved on to the free-form falling-petal section, which is mostly stockinette really at the moment. I kept having to rip back towards the end of the basketweave section -- I had just turned my brain right off or something -- but I seem to be back on the right track now.

Behold, the glory of unblocked lace knitting:

Well, at least it's getting longer:

I got a lot of knitting done last week on the train. I went to Rockport to go ocean kayaking, which was great fun, and I knitted up a storm. On the way back there was a little girl (she said she was four) out with a big group of her relatives, who I think were visiting from China. She was being a bit of a hellion and running up and down the aisle and being very loud and boisterous. She saw me knitting and she stopped dead for a second and said, "What you doing?" and I said that I was knitting, and that I was making a shawl out of yarn. Then she showed me a picture of her with Chuck E. Cheese, and told me she wanted to be a ship when she grew up, and we had a nice conversation for much of the rest of the trip back to Boston. Once she calmed down a little she was super-cute.

I've decided I want to try to learn to knit continental-style; sometimes English feels too stressful on my wrists, and I'd like to have another way. When I first started knitting, I knit English and purled continental, but that didn't work once I progressed beyond stockinette and had to switch back and forth between knit and purl in the same row, and for whatever reason, I chose to go English.

Anyway, since I figure I'll need an easy but interesting project to work on while I retrain myself, I bought some Noro Silk Garden on Thursday to make me a purty scarf. And I got some boring old stitch markers and needle point covers, too. While I was checking out, I noticed the Malabrigo laceweight they had at the counter. Ooh! I had previously been unaware of the existence of Malabrigo laceweight! While they were running my credit card, I was fondling the yarn. I love the Malabrigo worsted anyhow, and I now I can't wait to make something out of the laceweight, possibly something like Lacey from Knitty. I couldn't resist, and I ended up going back the next day for the Malabrigo laceweight in the Loro Barranquero colorway (I looked it up, and apparently that is a kind of Patagonian burrowing parrot that has historically been considered a pest but which is now endangered or threatened or something). So, in closing -- yarn porn!
Aww, sookie sookie.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Almost anticlimactic, but not quite.

Guess what I finished while I was watching the Red Sox game this afternoon? I'll give you a hint: it was a curiously appropriate project. OK, I give, it was the second Bayerische Sock!

I believe the appropriate response is WOO HOO! They are lovely lovely socks. This is what they looked like yesterday:

Note the little gummi-bear thingy -- I got sick of the little 00 needles poking through the side of my purse, so I bought a set of sock needle protectors. Yesterday I was working on them on the train on the way to the museum where I work on Saturdays. You have to change trains at one point, because not all the trains go all the way to the end of the line. This can be confusing for some people, especially because many of the train drivers do not make very useful announcements.

As a result of this, I often end up advising families of tourists on how to get to the museum, and I did so yesterday, with a rather confused French family. After I told them I was going the same place and they could follow me, one of the girls in the family said something to her father about a chaussette, and I held it up and showed it to her, and this led to a whole long conversation in bad English (theirs) and worse French (mine). Sadly, I didn't remember the word for knitting (tricoter, of course! Je suis tricoteuse!) until about three hours later.

This is not the first time knitting on public transportation has led me into conversation with people who do not speak my language -- I remember one time (at this same station, actually, although I was going in the opposite direction, from a different home to a different job) I was knitting an afghan and these two Asian women were very interested in it. I got the names for knit and purl from them -- it was something like jo and lai, I think, but I've forgotten which was knit and which was purl.

OK, in closing, one more picture of the socks. Check out that toe!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

FO! It's been a long, long time...

Do I grin maniacally? Very well, then I grin maniacally, I have knit a damn hat! This is a fast fast project -- I knit it in just over 24 hours, 24 hours during which I slept, worked, prepared three meals and ate four, played Wii Sports for more than an hour, and did two loads of laundry! I need to knit more stuff with worsted weight yarn.

Pattern is the Bzzz Hat for Queen Bees from Stitch 'n Bitch Nation, and I used Araucania Nature Wool in color #37. I loved this yarn for this project because the subtle variations in the yarn give a very organic pattern/texture to the finished hat like a beehive. I guess like a beehive -- I don't think I've ever actually seen a real beehive now that I think about it (I mean I've seen box hives and I've seen hornets' nests but I haven't seen a honeybee nest in the wild, which is unsurprising really given the decline of the European Honeybee in North America over the course of my lifetime).

Anyway! The bee buttons are from the inimitable Windsor Button Shop, where I think they had four or five different types of bee buttons in stock. Check them out up close:

For cute! They're some kind of plastic. Given the extreme feltability of this yarn and the fact that these buttons are plastic and possibly soluble in dry cleaning liquids, this hat is going to be strictly hand wash in cold water only, which I hope is OK with the eventual recipient. If not, oh well, it only took me a day to make it! I will be making another one of these for myself, because look how cute I look in it, I mean really.

Why don't I knit more easy stuff?

A long, long time ago a friend of mine asked me to make her a Bzzz Hat for Queen Bees from Stitch 'n Bitch Nation. A slightly less long time ago (a monthish), she turned 30, and I thought I should have given her the hat for her birthday. And then last night, I cast on for the hat. I think this should be some sort of lesson for me, because look where I am on the hat as of quarter to nine this morning:

Good heavens, what was I procrastinating about? An excess of fiddly socks and shawls and cables and lace has blinded me to the delights of easy knitting! I should do more mindless knitting in front of the television (last night the MST3K movie Cave Dwellers and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby). The yarn goes so fast, though! A ball of laceweight or sock yarn or even the sport weight I'm using on the mittens would last me so much longer than the Araucania Nature Wool I'm using on this. I guess that's part of the reason I like knitting the fiddly things -- good value for money and portability of small quantities of yarn.

I think my camera is broken (not so my phone, hence the hideous hideous picture above), otherwise I would take pictures of the Bayerische Sock and the Hanami Stole, which are both coming along nicely.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The project I haven't been talking about

Well, that title makes it sound awfully dramatic, but actually it's just a project I rediscovered half-finished and have been working on off-and-on but never really posted about here. It's the Blackberry Mitten from Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill.

I like them. They should go faster than they do, but I keep getting poor gauge (too big! still too big! too small! still kind of small! screw it!) and ripping the mitten back out and starting over. I know, I know, I should swatch -- but it would take me almost as long to swatch as it does to knit the whole cuff of the mitten. I rarely bother with swatches for small projects and unsized projects. Sweaters, absolutely. Tricky lace patterns that I'd like to get right before I cast on 200 stitches, sure. But seriously, the thought of ripping out four inches of mitten holds little fear for me.

One thing I like about this mitten is the braid detail. Check it out -- it's created by purling in alternating MC and CC with the yarn floated on the right side and twisted. On taking this picture, I notice that I've messed up the twist direction -- see over on the left-hand side? Maybe I should rip them out again -- that would make this the fourth or fifth time I've started this mitten. Imagine how quickly the left-hand one will go.

One thing I don't like so much about this mitten is the fair isle pattern. The floats are as much as nine stitches. I know that once I finish this will felt a bit and that won't be a problem, but I don't like it while I'm knitting. It does weird things to my tension.

Also in the up-close picture, I notice how hairy this mitten looks! Partly this is just the yarn. I like Blackberry Ridge yarns a lot -- they are wonderfully springy, the colors are nothing crazy or exciting but they're very attractive, and the yarns are both spun in the US and reasonably priced, which is nice -- but they can be a little on the scratchy side. Part of the hairiness is that I left this project out on the couch, with predictable results re: cat hair.

I was looking at the Blackberry Ridge website right now, and I noticed this pattern, which I am instantly in love with: Pine Tree Double Knit Mitten. It's a pretty obvious pattern, and I could do it on my own. On the other hand, I do like to support designers.

That's why I bought a totally adorable pattern yesterday at The Yarn Basket in Portsmouth. Check it out: Child's Kitty Cat Pullover. I just thought that cat had so much personality. I could have made something similar on my own but it might not have quite so much personality, and again, I hate to copy, especially from small-time people (I would have much less guilt about copying from commercial RTW designers, although I almost never do this, because usually the RTW patterns I like would be really boring and/or expensive to knit myself). Anyhow, I have no particular child in mind for the sweater, I just thought it was cute. And the yarn store woman said that the designer used to work in that very store.

Sadly, I didn't think to ask the yarn store to validate our parking, so we had to pay the full $1.50 on exiting the garage. Traumatic!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Great Yarn Audit

So I'm in a yarn-acquiring mood -- I want to get started on a sweater to wear this fall and winter, and I don't have anything right now that is screaming to be incorporated into a sweater. Part of the problem is that I like my sweaters lighter-weight, and a lot of my yarn is heavier, but also I just have a lot of yarn that I know I no longer need or want or even like. So I went through the stash -- my stash is pretty tame, since I'm a cheapskate with limited storage space -- and photographed everything so that I could see what I had, what I needed to get rid of, what I couldn't wait to play with!

There were nice things, ugly things, useless things and, I'm afraid, quite a lot of boring things. What's with the gray and beige?

Some things made me sad, like this:

One lonely ball of Trekking in a colorway I absolutely loved (it says 33 on the label, but I think it's a discontinued 33, sadly). I remember what the first sock looked like knitted up -- it was like flowers in a forest, all dark green with little bright-colored spots. I lost that sock, or something bad happened to it... I don't remember, it was at least two years ago and possibly I have PTSD about it. But now there's just this poor little ball left. I haven't given up, though; I think I can still make socks out of this, perhaps in stripes with a dark green or even brown. Heels and toes and cuffs in solid, and the rest of the sock in this pretty, pretty Trekking? Or maybe some nice knee socks with the cuffs, heels, and toes in Trekking and the sock body in something else? It could work.

Some things made me confused, like this bunch of gray yarns.

What made me want so much gray yarn? It doesn't even match itself! The top stuff looks like a cheap wig! I think I bought all of this around the same time; I guess I was just in a gray way. Actually, I can be even more specific about what caused me to buy the two Katia yarns: they were on sale. This was at a time when I had a somewhat different attitude about stash. A long time ago I knitted the Grecian Plait pullover from Knitty in the fuzzy yarn, but it wasn't a good substitute for the yarn in the pattern and the fabric was sloppy, and then I did an awful job of sewing it up, and then I washed it and it looked like a wet Westie. I think I gave that sweater to Goodwill, which is a sad ending for a handmade sweater, but there you go.

Or how about this:
That's about a third of the front of a big aran sweater I was going to make. It's way too big. It's way too oatmeal-colored. If you look closely, you'll see that I became so disgusted and annoyed with it I stopped IN MID-CABLE (the little green bit up in the corner is my cable needle). So now I have 13+ skeins of oatmeal-colored Elann Highland Wool and 9 inches of sweater I'll never wear.

Some yarns made me happy, although I have no more idea what to do with them now than I did when I shoved them under the bed:

These are from a purple period, I guess. The stuff on the top is bulky handspun something, and on the bottom is some kind of big huge yarn. I believe it's wool and it would probably get you three or four wraps to the inch. Fun stuff! There's some of it in my Afghan of Doooooom, but I have no idea what to do with the rest of it. It might make a nice hat.

Anyway, you can see the full extent of the carnage in my pics labelled yarn-audit at Flickr. And I am up for swapping much of what's there -- more pics and labels will be added over the next couple of days.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Ooh, new Interweave waiting for me when I got home today! (It's not mine, it's my roommate's, but she's out of town, so ha!) I've been in a sweater-knitting mood the last couple of days and I'm thinking I may make the Tangled Yoke cardigan and/or the Mirepoix bodice. I think the Mirepoix is awful cute, but I suspect that the fair isle section would end right in the middle of my boobs -- in this picture it's hard to see, but in the magazine it seems like the band is a little too short at least for the model in the picture. Of course it can be made longer, but I worry.

Any designers/fashion consultants out there? Where should bands like that end, for ideal fit? If a band stops immediately at the bottom of the breasts, that can look a bit matronly and over-emphasized. Should the band stop just short of the bra band line? Or is this just a difficult thing to wear, especially for large-chested types?

Ha! I just went over to the designer's blog and she thinks the model is a little too large for the sweater. But she also says the sweater was designed for her daughter, who is "a little stick of a thing." So I'm thinking some alteration would be necessary for non-little-sticks-of-things.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Pic pic pics

So, since I last posted, I have been on vacation!

(Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains, taken in Burlington, VT, which was not my final vacation destination but which was nonetheless a lovely place to stop for dinner.)

We all know what vacation means, right? Time for knitting! (And reading, and, you know, vacation fun.) I brought along all my current knitting projects -- this is actually just the Hanami stole and the Bayerische sock, and they're both very compact (the stole should be 19" by 70" complete and blocked, but the yarn is fine enough that it doesn't actually take up all that much room in the purse).

Unfortunately, I drove to my vacation destinations (Montreal and Mont Tremblant), which meant no plane/train/bus knitting, but I got in lots of hotel and pool knitting, which is also good stuff. I also did some car knitting, even though I was ostensibly driving -- there were serious delays at the border on the way home and I spent close to two hours going the last 1/2 mile to the customs plaza. Since I was in Park most of the time, I had no qualms about whipping out the knitting. A woman in a minivan I kept passing asked what I was making, and I held it up to show and said it was a shawl, and her husband/whatever said, "By the time you get to the states you'll be able to wear it!"

It wasn't quite stole weather by the time I got to Vermont, nor had I finished the shawl before my exciting interview with the customs guy (I nearly forgot to declare my Wheat Thins), but I got a pattern repeat or two done, and here's what it looks like now:

Not too bad-looking for unblocked lace! I'm on the fifth of seven repeats of the basketweave pattern; after that it turns to an every-row faux-random pattern of swirling petals. I love this baby alpaca yarn; it is super-soft and silky and I just want to rub my face on it. But I don't.

I also got some good vacation knitting done on the second sock (I'm determined to cure myself of second sock syndrome, and I've instituted a rule for myself where every time I finish a pattern repeat on the shawl, I have to work on the sock for a bit). Here's what that's looking like now:
Note that these photos were taken in natural light! It's an exciting breakthrough. This still doesn't look quite like the color looks to me -- it should be a bit darker maybe. More importantly, you can see the twiny stitches much better in natural light than with the flash or the assy camerphone.

Also, I should mention that I never turned comment notification on the Seven Year Sock, so I wasn't noticing when people were commenting. But now it's on! So I will notice and may even respond.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Sort of FO! Pictures to follow! Also new project! Also, why do I knit so loose?

So, I finished the first Bayerische Sock! I took some pictures a couple of days ago, but 1) it was dark and they didn't turn out so great and 2) my incredibly messy apartment was hiding my camera cable from me. But finally I found the cable, and given the excessively crappy weather we've been having I'm not going to be able to take any pretty well-lit pictures of it any time soon, so I shall post: And it only took me 3 months! Well, 3 1/2. Sigh. It actually looks even better in person. I'm delighted. I've cast on for the second sock but haven't even finished the ribbing yet.

I've cast on for the next sock, but I've also decided on my next/additional project (also in a fiddly smallish gauge -- what is wrong with me?): this Hanami Stole. I just happen to have some laceweight alpaca, and I just happened to see this stole mentioned in this post. (I feel some trepidation for the original poster, who wants to knit a wedding shawl for a friend, and wants it to be a cobweb-weight kind that you can pull through the wedding ring, but doesn't want it to be too difficult/complicated. Best of luck to her, I say!) I've got maybe 15 rows knitted on that so far; I left off the beads, because I just wasn't crazy about them as a design element and I feared that if I went into the bead store I might come out with more than I had bargained for. But it's shaping up really nicely.

The Hanami Stole is supposed to recall falling cherry blossoms, which I like. I have a fond memory of a lovely spring day out with friends strolling around the cherry blossom trees in Washington, DC. For those who are unfamiliar with this part of DC, the trees are in a park on a sort of peninsula out into the Potomac, and you can get quite a long way from the nearest Metro stop while you're walking. Just as we were getting about as far as you could from the Metro, a storm whipped up out of nowhere. It got dark, and the wind was blowing cherry blossoms everywhere (I kept getting them in the mouth), and everyone started running back off the peninsula -- thousands of people, all trying to beat the storm to shelter in the Metro and the museums and things. Long before we made it, it started pouring rain. People were huddling under bridges (just right out in the street), under/up against little monuments and in statue niches and things... it was pretty hilarious (it was a nice warm day, so hypothermia risk was fairly low). I ended up buying a new t-shirt at the Air and Space Museum because I was so soaked. I considered buying new pants, too, but couldn't find any I liked. Anyway, that was a fun day, I thought (and yes, I do also like piƱa coladas).

Further evidence of my excessively loose knitting: the pattern calls for size 3 American needles. I started the shawl on size 2s, but it was way big, and I went back and re-started on 0s, which seem to be just about small enough. "Making socks?" the woman at A Good Yarn asked. Yes and no, I said.

But take the socks, for example. I have gone down three needle sizes for those socks, from the recommended 2 to 00. And I feel like I'm knitting incredibly tightly! The twisted stitches and frequent cabling on the sock mean that it feels tighter than plain knitting, to the point where sometimes I can hardly squeeze my needle into the stitch! I don't understand how it would be possible to knit to gauge on the size needles recommended, and yet plenty of people seem to have done so. I am clearly freakish.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

You know, I am still working on that same damn sock. The first sock, even! Last weekend, I went to the Big Apple to audition for Jeopardy (as you do), and it kept me company on the bus and the train (bus out, train back; I am more tolerant of annoying bus travel at the beginning of a trip than I am at the end of one). Except I lost my copy of the pattern and my train ticket! Now, I don't know about you, but when I have just lost a train ticket, I need something to calm me down. Something like knitting, or a good stiff drink. Having just spent an unexpected $100 on a train ticket, I did not care to shell out money for an overpriced Amtrak drink, so knitting it was.

I had turned the heel and picked up the gussets on the bus, so I didn't have anything too complicated to do, but I still managed to screw up pretty royally, and I ended up having to rip all that out last night. But it was easily resumed (I probably only knit for the first hour or so of the train, so there wasn't too much to redo) and I am well into the decreases now. I still love the pattern, and I still haven't memorized it, sadly (now that I'm into the foot one of the patterns is sort of split up and altered, so it's a new chart to learn, not that I ever quite got the full pattern memorized).

Oh, and also I got my train ticket back, and it's still good! So that's nice. Who says New Yorkers don't care.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A new beginning

This blog isn't going to be just about socks, I swear -- I'm really not that into them. Mostly. But I am starting a new pair of socks -- Eunny Jang's Bayerische Sock. So pretty! And I had the exact right yarn on hand (from the last pair of socks I started, two and a half freaking years ago). It seemed fated. As usual, I need to go down a size or two in the needles; this was a problem because size 0 needles were the smallest I had on hand. I called A Good Yarn (motto: we're the LYS on Kyle's way home from work), who had nothing between a size 0 and a 0000. But Windsor Button (motto: we're the most dangerous of all yarn stores because we also sell notions and embroidery stuff and lots of shiny buttons!) was able to hook me up with a Susan Bates sock set with four sets of needles, size 000 to 1. My inner knitting snob is all, "OMG, Susan Bates needles? Why don't you just knit up an afghan in your school colors from Red Heart acrylic while you're at it?"

But actually, they're not bad at all -- much quieter than the larger sizes, for one thing. I hate noisy needles! And they were $10 for four pairs of needles (and that's at Windsor Button, which isn't exorbitant or anything but isn't a big box bargain store either). Win win! My roommate has a needle sizer that goes down to 000, so it was extra easy to figure out which size was which (as a wise poster on the advanced knitting livejournal community pointed out, they can't exactly print the size on the shaft of a 1.5mm needle).

So I've started the Bayerisches Sock, and it is a... a challenge, let's say. The increase row between the ribbing and the beginning of the pattern is scarier than most sweaters. Seriously:
*(K1tbl, p1) 7 times. M1 purlwise. (K1tbl, m1 knitwise, p1, m1 purlwise) 2 times. (k1tbl, p1) 7 times. K1tbl, m1 knitwise. Purl into front and back of next stitch. M1 knitwise. K1tbl, m1 purlwise, p1, m1 knitwise, k1tbl, p1. Repeat from * for other half of sock. 20 stitches increased, 96 stitches total.
Tell me that's not disturbing and frightening. It took me three tries. Then it took me two more tries to establish the pattern, but finally! There it was, ending at the end of the fourth needle and everything. I had to take a break after two pattern rows because I had a death grip on my poor little aluminum needles (in my set, the 00s are hot pink, which is clashy but kind of awesome with the red yarn).

The sock pattern involves four cable charts, three of which are eight rows long and one of which is 16 rows long; after eight rows, the pattern is really starting to come together and I'm getting much more relaxed about cabling without a cable needle, and just more relaxed about the pattern in general. My knitting has really loosened up a lot, which makes me worry that I'm going to have to go down another needle size, but anyway this is good practice, right?

Here is a terrible, hideous, fluorescently-lit camera-phone photo of the Sock So Far:

We had a rough patch during that increase row, but I think I love Eunny Jang.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Late to the bandwagon

Suddenly I realized how incomplete my life was without a place for me to talk about knitting (and other crafts)! Let's start, shall we?

Friday I decided I hadn't been knitting enough, and that the things I had been knitting were largely crap (this is, in fact, true; I am a few inches into an enormous aran sweater that I will never ever wear, and have a few feet of a tiny-gauge seed-stitch scarf that I hate more than I can say). So I decided I would do something new and different -- a fair isle baby sweater! I have never steeked, and I'd like to try it out on something small and defenseless.

Anyhow, I knew I had some Dale BabyUll somewhere in the house, so I dove into my under-bed yarn storage facility, and I did indeed find some BabyUll. I also found five pairs of socks in various stages of construction:

  1. Half a toe-up sock in red Lang Jawoll;
  2. One-and-a half twining cable socks from a pattern in Knitting on the Road in a pink-and-navy colorway of an unknown yarn;
  3. One complete plain sock in a dark bluish-greenish Trekking (I could identify this one because the other unused ball still had the label on it);
  4. A pair of Regia faux-fair-isle socks, one with afterthought heel, one with no heel at all (never got around to the "afterthought" part), both full of mysterious crunchy holes;
  5. And a pair of loon-patterned socks that need new toes because the old ones have gone a bit holey.

The last sock I started was the toe-up red one, and if I recall correctly I started and quickly abandoned it in fall of 2004, when the Red Sox won the pennant (it was going to be a commemorative sock). So I have not knit socks in about two and a half years. I have not knit socks since I moved to my current apartment (my roommate, also a knitter, was shocked -- "I thought you just didn't like knitting socks," she said when I dragged them all out from under the bed). I have not knit socks since I started my current job. In short, I have not knit socks in a damn long time.

What happened with me and socks? I think it was a combination of a lot of factors. I don't really wear wool socks all that often -- I'm the kind of person who's usually too warm when everyone else is comfortable, plus at work I usually just wear tights in winter (maybe I should knit myself a pair of tights or thigh-highs -- those I might get some use out of). I was also maybe more than a little disheartened by the mysterious holes that developed in the toes of the loon socks, even though they'll be easy enough to fix once I get down to it. And last but not least, I only have one set of 2mm needles, and anything bigger than 2mm is too loose for a sock for me (I like my socks firm and I'm a loose knitter), so I couldn't conveniently work on more than one pair of socks at a time.

What's become of the socks? I ripped out the red half-sock and the dark blue-green sock. They were boring, and I had no interest in finishing them. I threw away the crunchy, holey Regia socks. I don't know what went wrong there, but it's not worth fixing. I'm holding on to the loon socks and I have every intention of re-toe-ifying them in the near future. And the twining cable pink-and-navy socks are my great success story! I ripped back to the beginning of the heel flap so I knew where I was and then I finished them. One of the ankles is a bit floppier than the other one (curiously, since I probably did the ankle of the second sock pretty close to when I did the first sock), but they're pretty and totally wearable (and given that we're having an unseasonably chilly April, I may actually get to wear them for real, and soon).

Hooray for socks!