Saturday, June 30, 2007

3, 2, 1. . . . US, that is.

I’ve had this fascination lately with very small needles. Granted, I’ve had a foray or two into larger stuff (like the misbegotten baby sweater below), but mostly I’ve been fiddling with Paton’s Grace mercerized cotton (did you know that mercerized just means preshrunk?), and sock yarn. (Huh. “Sock yarn” sounds so simple, so unassuming. And yet, to the initiated, it calls forth images and memories more powerful than any other yarn, imho.) But I digress . . . (what else is new?)

Last Tuesday at stitch night, someone asked me about my FCSS, and I said that it wasn’t much further along than the last time I had it there. Someone talked about how hard lace knitting was (with which I would have agreed only a few months ago), and I said that I liked knitting on the FCSS because it was mindless. They laughed, and went on to other topics, while my brain caught hold of the word “mindless”, and my synapses fired. No, it wasn’t mindless. Mindless is this poor, lonely, neglected sock which will soon be frogged again.

It served its purpose, keeping me awake a couple of times in church, and on a long car ride when I didn’t have to drive. But it has definitely lost its allure. A good hand and pretty colors can only take a sock so far. It has to be interesting . . . engaging . . . not too hard to memorize, but complex enough to require some level of attention at regular intervals. I must get a kick out of figuring things out and getting them “right”; otherwise, I’d be happy as a clam with stockinette tubes and simple heels.

So, this afternoon I decided I wanted to knit. Last night I had decided that I wanted to knit up some gorgeous, bouncy, hand-painted Collinette Jitterbug in Mist, so it was wound and ready to go today. (I’m thinking I’m going to follow Knit and Tonic’s example and wind yarn right off, instead of waiting until I’m chomping at the bit to knit it. It takes too long then!) So then, what did I do? I found the pattern I wanted to try (Grumperina’s Jaywalker), and decided I wanted to do them toe-up. (I can’t bear the thought of wasting even one foot of Jitterbug.) I’ll just weigh the skein as I go along and when it gets to 50g, I’ll cast off and start the other sock. So, off to Google toe-up instructions for the Jaywalkers. Found ‘em, and decided I didn’t like the toe that was used. (I reallllllly don’t like a provisional cast on over two dpn’s. Drives me nuts knitting the first round.) So, I Googled for “basic toe up sock pattern”, and ended up at Amy King’s freebies page. (It’s awesome. If you haven’t been there, go now. I’ll wait. . . . .) Back? Good. Where was I . . . oh yes, Amy’s sock patterns. I found a toe up sock that had intriguing instructions–you knit a cute little square, then pick up stitches on the selvages and increase as usual, making it into a little cup-shaped toe. Very, very cool.

But, instead of using the provisional cast on called for there (I just can’t get away from it! Aaaaaaaaaugh!), I did a long tail cast on and then just picked up stitches from the loops along the bottom. It’s seamless, as you can see . . .

And I looooooove the whole “avoiding messing with needles so close together you want to scream” and the “gaps between the stitches because you don’t have tiny little Tinkerbell fingers” stuff. (Disclaimer: I know that there are plenty of you out there who, with A Passion, Love the Provisional Cast On for socks. And that you have larger fingers than I do. (I only wear a size 5.5 wedding ring.) I understand Passionate Opinions, and hold a few myself. I just don’t want to go there for socks. For shawls and lace, no problem. Even for sweaters, no problem. Just not for socks. No, no, never ever for socks.)

So, I knit my little square and pick up stitches and increase away, trying it on as I go so as to get the taper right. I have long, pointy feet, and regardless of what Stephanie (LINK HERE!) asserts about elegant and aristocratic feet, mine are just long and funny. So, I make fairly wedge-shaped socks. See?

Very pointy. (And I know I made a mistake putting in the row of garter stitch before the pattern. I read somewhere that someone did it and they liked it–with my tension, et al., it’s more of a Sesame Street Count’s eyebrows look than a nice transition from stockinette to Jaywalking. I’m hoping it will block out.)

In other news, I'm still having trouble finding projects that I actually want to finish. I absolutely loved the Vine Lace Baby Hat from Knitting Daily . . .

And so much so that I made a scaled-down version for my daughter's doll. It's such a fun little pattern, and makes such a springy, gentle, pretty fabric that I cast on for the second one almost right away. I'm toying with the idea of making a couple more, but I decided to wait until after the intended recipient receives this one, and I find out about fit & the new mama's washing preferences. (I know that handwashing and baby clothes don't go together very well, and with a new mom, the KISS concept rules supreme.) Here's a closeup of the dolly version, so you can see the stitch patter better:

(Modeled by my ball of Jitterbug, no less. ;o) So, since I was waiting on news from my SIL on the hats (which I still haven't sent, [blush]), I started this:

It was supposed to be a baby hat for a little nephew of mine, but I've long since lost any desire to work on it. The pattern isn't turning out anything like I had envisioned, (I made it up as I went along), and I realized a couple of rows ago that it's more than likely going to be too small. :o( However, I did learn a really nifty way of doing a rolled edge. . . .

That's some kind of corrugated ribbing above the stockinette rows for the rolled edge. Att least, I think it is. I picked up the idea from a shrug someone at my knit night made, and thought I'd try it out. (The gal that knit it is amazing . . . she runs an insurance office, and I often wonder if she ever actually does any work. She turns out FO's like cupcakes, and she's 6' 1", so she's not knitting up quick, tiny little things in XXS.) Anyway, the knit/purl sections above the corrugated rib is pretty klunky, but I really do like that little rib/rolled edge combo. The rib is a row of k1, p1 followed by a knit row, repeated for as long as you'd like. It's good and substantial, and keeps that rolled edge from going anywhere. I wish I had known this earlier, in time to keep the rolled edges of my kids' sweaters from threatening to swallow half of the body length. (Yes, I switched to a needle several sizes smaller, and knit as tightly as I could--it didn't help.)

Before I started the yellow hat, though, I cast on and knit 97% of this:

Yes, it's missing a sleeve in the photo. I frogged it. I somehow missed an increase row in the yoke, so the flat-knit sleeves were too skinny. I cast on a couple extra sleeve stitches underneath in the body, so I could pick up a couple extra and knit in a gusset. Then, once I did that a couple of times, (both knitting just a gusset in the armpit and a strip all the way down the underside of the arm), I hated it. I couldn't get the tension to match the sleeve stitches. And, once the sleeves were a proper width, I could see that they were too short. Booger. So, I frogged the sleeve, thinking I'd reknit it in the round. (I'm guessing the pattern had them knit flat because the rest of the sweater is knit flat, and two short seams are cheaper than dpns. Anyway, then I really started looking at the sweater, and this is what I saw:

This is Patagonia Nature Cotton (same company as Araucania Nature Cotton, but this is hand-painted), knit on a #10 bamboo circular needle. The yoke pattern was interesting to knit, but it just looks like a mess with this yarn. (Note to self: the no variegated yarn knitted into lace rule applies to any textured stitch.) I really like the plain stockinette part of the jacket, but the yoke just looks like a mess. So, this one's going to the frog pond, too. {Si---------igh}

In other news, I'm really having fun figuring out the Eye of Partridge stitch on the underside of my Jaywalker socks. It's hard to see in the photo--it switches over just above the halfway point down from the toe. It's cushy, and interesting. Now, if someone can just tell me how to get rid of those peaks where the Jaywalker angles start . . .

Friday, June 29, 2007


Okay, I finally have to give in a do a meme. ;o) Camilla tagged me, so here are three events, two births and one holiday from WikiPedia that all fall on June 14th. (Yep, I just turned 31. It's odd . . . that number keeps increasing, but the older I get, the less I feel like I really know about life. Sure, I can knit and cook and do all kinds of things, but really, life in general? Just as big a dork as ever. Anybody else feel that way?)

Three Events:

1645 - English Civil War: Battle of Naseby – 12,000 Royalist forces are beaten by 15,000 Parliamentarian soldiers.

1919 - John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown depart St. John's, Newfoundland on the first nonstop transatlantic flight.

1967 - Mariner program: Mariner 5 is launched toward Venus.

Two Births:

1444 (O.S.) - Nilakantha Somayaji, Indian mathematician (d. 1544)

1479 (O.S.) - Giglio Gregorio Giraldi, Italian poet (d. 1552)

One Holiday:

International Weblogger's Day – Celebration of the work of webloggers around the world

Okay, since I have a woefully small blog readership, I'll tag a few I've at least emailed. ;o)

I know that's a short list, but this is seriously outside of my comfort zone. ;o) Off to leave "tag" comments.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Just one of those days . . .

There's nothing like a little Weird Al to keep things in perspective . . .

Got to work late 'cause my alarm was busted
The boss chewed me out and everybody's disgusted
'Cause it's just one of those days
It's just one of those days

I lost one of my socks in the dryer
I can't find my wallet and my hair is on fire
Just one of those days
It's just one of those days

I just wrapped my Cadillac around a tree
A big swarm of locusts is following me
There's not even anything good on TV
It's just one of those days
It's just one of those days

Left all my Beatles records out in the sun
Got a Coke bottle stuck on the end of my tongue
It's just one of those days
Gonna be one of those days

The Nazis tied me up and covered me with ants
And I spilled toxic waste on my brand new pants
Just one of those days
Ever have one of those days?

The bank called me up and told me I'm overdrawn
Some freaks are burnin' crosses out on my front lawn
And I can't believe it, all the Cheetos are gone!
It just...just one of those, one of those days
Just one of those, one of those days

[Seriously good guitar riff here.]

The F.B.I. has got a tap on my phone
Those darn Russian spies won't leave me alone
Shouldn't have got up this morning, shoulda known
It's just one of those days
It's just one of those days

A 747 crashed into my den
And there's nothin' but tater tots for dinner again
It's just one of those days
Never mind, it's just one of those days

Big steamroller just ran over my mom
And I cut myself shaving and they're dropping the bomb
It's just one of those days
That's all, it's just one of those days

Then late at night, just before I go to bed
The world blows up and now everybody's dead
You just can't deny it, it's just like I said
Just...just one of those, one of those days
Just one of those days, one of those days

--Weird Al Yankovich

(If you want to hear it, click here. As with most of the musical YouTube links, spare your brain cells and minimize the window while it's playing.)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Not Dead Yet.

Just up to my eyeballs. Life happens, you know. ;o)

Just a quick rundown of what has been going on:

1. Haircut. From below my shoulder blades to now just brushing the tops of my shoulders, with a fun little flip at the end.

2. Yard work.

3. House work. (It was really getting to me, and we all pitched in. Can't let it get that far away ever again!)

4. Dump runs. Up here in the wilds, there are county-run garbage dumps all over the place, because there is no standardized waste pickup service. (And Waste Management doesn't like to drive up 20% grades with 6" of snow pack, either.) We've been taking, literally, truckloads of hud to the dump. All junk that has been sucking the life force out of me for nearly a decade. Vern is an absolute Saint for moving so many boxes of just plain refuse six times in the last eight years. The next time we move, we'll be lightening our loads considerably. I already feel better. ;o)

5. Family time.

6. Kiddo time.

7. Grown-up time.

8. Knitting time. I've been going into the local LYS for their Tuesday UFO night, and having a great time. It's good to have a couple of hours of girl talk, even if I'm not doing much talking. And, it makes for good knitting, too. I'm working on a sweater for the next line item, and I'm to the boring stockinette part, so it's perfect for Tuesday night.

9. New niece. Hooray!!! My brother & SIL just had their first little girl earlier this week. It's amazing, and I can't wait to see her in person. Since they went and moved all the way to Tejas, it's not likely that I'll see her until Christmas . . . she'll be six months old! Waaaaa . . . . I'm really close to my brother, and I love his wife dearly, and it was really hard being so far away at such a monumental time in their lives. I'll have to console myself with watching reruns in the afterlife, and knitting lots of adorable little things for the 9lb, 20.5" roundy little thing. (She's so cute! Even as a newborn, she's adorable.)

10. New work at church. I've accepted a volunteer position to work in the children's program at church, and it's taking some time. Weekly meetings, and then time to prepare my part of the gig and time on Sunday. Right now we've got an average of 38 children between the ages of 3 & 11 for nearly an hour, and it takes the wind right out of your sails, I tell you. We're working on splitting it into two groups (3-7 & 8-11), but that won't happen for at least a week, maybe two. Wish me luck . . .

And that's about all I can think of right now. I really am alive, and I'll try to see if blogging really fits in with my everyday life, and if so, at what level. I've really been feeling a need to immerse myself in my family--the kids are growing up so incredibly fast (my oldest is almost 8--EIGHT, I tell you! He's halfway to legal adulthood already. What happened?!?!?!?), and I can't bear to be a mother in absentia any longer. I'll have loads of time to knit and blog and be social when they're older and flown. But for now, I'll blog in moderation, and try to remember to take some good knitting photos soon.

For now, some garden eye candy. (I just love June, don't you?)

And a smile as you go . . .

Saturday, June 9, 2007

How I knit socks.

So, Camilla made a sly swipe at those of us who are still knitting socks in the dark ages, assuming that all dpn sock knitters are top-down sock knitters as well.

Well. ;o)

I hate sliding the circulars back and forth as I knit socks, but I hate the guessing game of trying to get every last inch of precious, expensive sock yarn turned into socks. So, I knit toe up with dpn's. (So does Amy King, btw.) And yes, that's the Crystal Palace Panda Wool reincarnated as toe-up socks, using the pattern from the latest IK. It's just as fun to knit the second time as it was the first. :o)

Monday, June 4, 2007

Knitting Culture - What a kick!

Well, Knitting Culture seems to be getting off to a good start. I don't have landslide numbers yet, but the ranking numbers have been steadily increasing. I'm trying to ignore the sneaking suspicion that there are a whole lot of dead lenses over at Squidoo, and just be thrilled that Knitting Culture is #143 in DIY & Hobbies, and #3,052 out of 153,497. (That's up from #151,543 a week ago.)

Not too shabby, eh?

So, if you haven't been to Knitting Culture yet, please do drop by. Stick a link in the "Reports from the Field" plexo, and leave a knitterly entry in the guestbook. I'm working on some additional modules for other facets of being a Knitter, but all will be revealed in good time.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Public Service Announcement: Yarn Harlot MA date change

Just doing my little bit to get the word out. CCR in MA of Knit Read Cats Hockey has learned from her local Borders store that Stephanie's visit there has been moved from the July 12th to August 2nd. You can read all about it here.

Alas, I won't be going (living on the opposite side of the country as I do), but if you're in the neighborhood and would like to go, I'd suggest calling the Borders over there in Burlington and putting yourself on the guestlist. They're only letting 300 people in the store, and if you're not on the list, I'm afraid you'll be out of luck. (I wonder if the local fire marshal has anything to do with that number?)

So far, I've had a good weekend (all things considered). Hope you're all doing just as well! (Especially you, Camilla. Better get in the good times before Monday, right? I'll be sending lots of calming, steady vibes your way.)

Friday, June 1, 2007

Friday: State of the WIP Address

Well, for some reason I like to take an accounting of what has been happening in my knitting world on Friday. Instead of fighting that urge, and trying to move it to Wednesday* to follow the knitblogging tradition of WIP Wednesday I'll just go with it.

*Trying to move urges has never been a good idea for me--anybody out there had real success in transferring urges to a predetermined schedule?**

**Many thanks to CCR in MA for the convention of italicized notes that are too big for a parenthetical insertion in blog text, but nonetheless need to be said. ;o)

So, here are a few shots of things I've had in progress lately.

First, the Forest Canopy Shawl:

Remember, this is Shadow laceweight from Knit Picks, and that's a 14" pillow it's sitting on. So, while it might not look like much from here, there are approximately 151 stitches on the needle, and this sucker is really going to expand when blocked. I'm really excited to see what it looks like when it's all done and washed. Here's a gratuitous shot of the pattern close up. You can see how dense the stitches are right now. You can see the yo's along the top there at the bottom left, and the diagonal row of center stitches traveling up to the right. (Btw, I really do love the line of twisted stitches in the middle. I'm curious to see what happens to them when blocked.)

And, in case you're wondering what happened to the alpaca version of the FCSS, here's it's latest progress shot:

Yep. Frogged. Completely. I was working on it one night, and after painstakingly tinking back several times, I was knitting along and noticed, about halfway down the 4" or so of shawl I had done, a dropped stitch. As I watched, that slippery alpaca laceweight proceeded to run a few more rows down, and its fate was sealed. Word of warning to all future projects: Don't mess with me, especially when I've been pouring time and attention on you. I don't take lip from inanimate objects.

I may try doing something smaller with this, held double (or maybe I'll overtwist the yarn and then ply two strands together--anyone out there wiser than I am who thinks that's a bad idea?). I have a little niece due in just over two weeks, and Knitting Daily's Lace Vine baby hat would be really pretty in this. (The pic on the homepage is in black--not a good choice to show off the pattern, but if you subscribe, you'll be able to see the photo in the pattern, which is in a pretty pink.)

So, marching onward, here are two more WIP's.

Mama socks in KP Dancing.

These have been languishing on the needles for almost six months now. I've lost the Dancing love, and I'm planning on frogging this and turning the two skeins of Dancing into matching socks for DD1 & DD2. DD1's feet are getting kinda large, (well, she's 5 1/2), but I should still be able to make her a really good pair of socks with plenty left over for the baby.

Next up, another mama sock in Panda Wool by Crystal Palace. Can I say that I really, Really Love this Yarn? Wool & bamboo together is a match made in heaven, imho. This has a gorgeous hand, and the colors are much better in real life. (The green isn't quite so yellow, and the blue is more purple. Blast that red filter they put in all terrestrial use digital cameras.)

I've been working slowly on this because I'm not sure just how long I can make the top without running out of yarn. Then, the obvious occurred to me. I can knit these toe-up. I've really enjoyed knitting this much of it (it has been narcolepsy control thus far, and yes, I do still deal with mild bouts of that from time to time--very embarrassing), and look forward to knitting another two socks, secure in the knowledge that I'll be able to use almost every last precious, expensive, soft inch of the yarn.

And now we have the red mystery thing-a-ma-jig. I'm still not telling what it is. Any guesses?

Light worsted hemp/wool yarn in Chili, knit on a us3 (first Knit Picks options, and now a Clover Takumi).

And, lest you think I'm normal or something, here's a new one:

I succumbed to weakness last Tuesday after my LYS's UFO night, and just bought a pattern for my v-neck pullover. I've been reading Knitting from the Top (Excellent book, btw. Should be required reading for all knitters) and was going to just wing it. But, I really like KPS's patterns, and the lure of a no-math, almost-instant gratification path to my pullover was too strong to bear. (And I'm a member of The Sisterhood, so I got 30% off. How could I resist? lol)

As an added bonus, my favorite stitch markers look really pretty with the yarn I'm using:

And lastly, what I wish I could be doing today . . .

Have a great weekend, everyone!