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 . . .