Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Leavin', on a jet... train?

Yep, we're off on Amtrak to Seattle, and from thence to Vancouver and Portland, leaving tomorrow, Weds., 7/26. I won't be taking my laptop, so there are unlikely to be any posts until I return on 8/9. Sorry for the long silence in the meantime. Keep those needles a-clickin'!

Successful sockies!

Two pair finished, and oh so cute, if I do say so myself.

And I do.

Here is one of the socks with Carson's foot in it :-) It's just a hair too long, which is what I was hoping, since a wool sock isn't going to be at all useful to her now. Yeah, I know, the join is sloppy. Do I care?

No. It's a darn cute sock. And a darn cute kid.

Second (yellow) pair is to my own pattern.. more detail eventually.

Kitchener challenges continue

When I finished my latest set of baby socklets, I oh-so-carefully Kitchenered the toe cap, then pulled out the #00 needles and..

I boobooed. On BOTH socks (only one illustrated here, I couldn't bear the pain of photographing it when it happened the second time!

Basically, I missed one entry through two loops on this one; both entries through one loop on the other.

I didn't feel like pulling it all out and redoing it, so I just wove in and added a stitch with my Chibi needle. I'm totally a cheater at heart. And not a perfectionist.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Cute li'l sockie.

Baby socks are ridiculous. They just shouldn't be allowed.

Personally, I think it belongs on cuteoverload.com.

Size US 2 DPNs, Lane Cervinia "Forever Jacquard" (75% superwash wool, 25% nylon) in color #210. Pattern is a modified version of this PDF.

I've made a pair, and have started on a second pair to my own pattern, but I'm home with a yucky cold/sore throat, am out of reach of my work computer with the ability to load pics, and hence can't show you current pictures. Bah. Cross your fingers that I get over this thing before we leave on vacation next week.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Ms. Pal SP8 Rocks the Casbah!

I really am VERY fortunate in my Secret Pals.

Look at this amazing loot that came this week from Ms. Pal, who just got back from vacation and still had time to think of me...
There's a great card, a yummy-scented candle, a cool crochet pattern for mohair lace shawls, and some amazing yarn — first, Schaefer Anne hand-painted sock yarn in a gorgeous set of mossy greens, and next and most amazingly, some handspun Blue-Faced Leicester/merino that is just out of this world. Mind-blowingly great colors in this tweedy mix. My SP suggests socks, but I'm thinking this yarn is so stunning it needs to be shown off more than that. I'm thinking of finding something complementary and making a little shoulder throw with it. We'll see!

Here's a closeup on the Schaefer Anne. Anne is 60% superwashed merino, 25% mohair and 15% nylon. It has amazing sheen and it's SO soft. Apparently every skein is unique! And these colors are definitely up my alley. I think my Secret Pal has me down...

Let's get a few more glimpses of that amazing yarn:

Anyway — thank you, Ms. Pal!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Of course...

... I cast back on immediately. Knitpicks' Mock Croc socks. (Sorry, blurry picture and bad lighting on the Sundara yarn.)

And then, nearly as immediately, ran into trouble.

O knitters, I need thy wisdom. When you're doing a yo right before a sl 1 (which is followed by k2tog-psso), do you bring the yarn forward after the yo, or keep it behind? If I keep it behind, it seems to want to hop over the sl 1, though that is of course irrelevant after the psso happens...

So, ya know. Help!!!!!

Meanwhile, I cast on for some little socklets to fit Carson NOW. They'll only count for 1/4 pair in the Summer of Socks, but darn if this yarn isn't cute for baby socks. I thought it was short-color, but in baby-sock size it's actually self-striping. Which is pretty likeable, even by me, in a baby sock.

It's a pair!

Not that they fit very well — I probably won't use this heel style again, though it was really fun to execute for some reason — but they are super soft, and I think they're pretty.

I have to wonder, though — why do I keep buying variegated sock yarn when I really prefer sock styles (esp. cables) that look good in solids?

It's partly that "looks so great in the skein" thing. I see why people have so much sock yarn stash they don't knit. And I think it's partly because it seems wasteful to spend lots of money on yarn that's "only boring solids". Why? I don't know. Silly.

(Guess I gotta start making some Jaywalkers to use up all these stripey things.)

Monday, July 17, 2006

I don't swatch in the round.

I know I should. But every time I've done so, and compared to straight knitting, it's identical -- or within 1/4 stitch over 4".

(not yet blocked, sorry — too eager to take pix!)
So when this sock started looking ginormous, I thought, okay, it's a judgement on me for not swatching properly. And I measured it in situ. To my surprise, my gauge was RIGHT ON. I checked a few different areas of the sock, too. All got gauge.

The sock fits, in fact... and I like the arrowhead lace with the variegated yarn. Gives it some interest.
The heel, however, is a bit on the large side.

No row gauge was specified. But honestly, I think different heels fit different people. I wanted to try this type of heel, which I hadn't yet tried ("Half Handkerchief"). And it was interesting to knit. However, I think my narrow heels are just too shrimpy for it. And that is okay.

The pattern was well written, and totally fun. Can't wait to start the second sock!

Don't I have a nice leg? er, I mean sock?

The sock is super-thick and destined for skiing or being a house sock. Mmmmm, so soft.

Grandma's stash.

We went through my grandmother's apartment this weekend, figuring out who would take what items — she really wanted her things to go to people she knew if possible. She had already told me she wanted me to have her knitting things. Most of what she had is redundant with what I have (or the things I have are higher quality), but I will try to use hers when possible. Maybe my niece will learn to knit one day and I can hand them on down.

First, of course, there were knitting needles and crochet hooks. Mostly unremarkable, but...

This is a steel crochet hook, marked in size "14", with my middle finger (no comment intended) for size. I can barely see the hook on this; I actually had to run my finger over it to be sure there was a hook here. This is how my grandmother and her mother (I think this was her mother's) created the amazing crocheted lace that they did. I'll show you some of that when I get it washed. Imagine entire 5' x 8' tablecloths made with this needle. It hurts my brain.

Grandma had told me that she had started to make a blouse, but that she would not be finishing it and that she'd leave it for me to finish. I found it — she did not have a huge stash, as she was low-income all her life (so couldn't afford to accumulate the mess that I have in just seven months of knitting!). And, indeed, there is her beginning of the blouse, and I even have her notes on it.

There's just one problem.

This yarn (Esslinger Wolle Geisha) is 85% acrylic, 15% mohair. This is not a good yarn for a blouse. It won't breathe at all. It would be lovely for a wrap or a throw. The color is hard to reproduce, but it's an orange-toned tan with some sheen to it.

I respect Grandma, but I might not use this for a blouse. It would be a shame to make something no one would ever wear. So we'll see.

Grandma had told me she had started a crocheted afghan, and ran out of yarn. This must be it. There are some unconnected squares that are already made, and a little bit of the background color left. I'm thinking I'll either use it as an inset in a larger afghan, or make it into a pillow. I'm not 'into' granny squares anymore (loved them as a child, and made dozens which are packed away in boxes, not made into anything), but I love Grandma's work.

This yarn (sorry about the blur) was bought by my aunt, Grace, on a trip to Italy. She was so excited to give it to Grandma, and I think a little disappointed that Grandma didn't use it. I think Grandma was intimidated :-) Grace dithered a bit about taking it — she used to knit, but doesn't knit anymore — and finally said, "You take it and make yourself something you'll like." I said, "How about if I take it and make something YOU will like." I've got an idea in mine for a sweater for her; I'll need more, and other, yarn (there are about ten balls of this, and I'd need about 20), but I have a thought about how to balance this intense color and do something nice. So — eventually.

Meanwhile, Laila enjoyed watching me unpack.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Of course, I cast on again immediately.

This is Brooklyn Handspun Instant Gratification yarn in the colorway "Deep Elemental." I swatched last night on Susan Bates US #3s and on Comfort Zone #4s, and the #4s won the gauge contest. I haven't tried CZs yet for a sock -- where I prefer hard and super-slick needles like Inox dpns -- but this yarn is sport-weight, so I thought it might work.

It does, though the very long and pointy tips of the CZ needles combined with the soft twist of the yarn has caused me to split a lot of stitches. But I'm fixing them.

The sock pattern I'm using is Nancy Bush's Little Arrowhead, free courtesy of The Wooly West. It looked like it would work with the Instant Gratification, and indeed it does so far. What you can't see in this picture is the frogging I'd done immediately before (when I suddenly woke up and realized that row 3 of the 4-row pattern is different from row 1) and the reknitting to actually develop the little arrowheads.

It can be hard to find a sock pattern that works with wildly variegated sock yarns. We all know ribs, lace and cables work nicely with solid light colors; solid darks are best with simple or lacy; self-striping takes to zig-zags, chevrons and waves. And a softly variegated yarn like one of Sundara's Somewhat Solids, or a short-color like some of Regia's, can be used with a textured pattern if carefully chosen. But what about the super-cheerfuls like this "Deep Elemental" ? Stockinette and ribs only, like this simple sock by the Brooklyn Handspun queen herself? It's pretty...

My thinking is that a simple lace, combined with stockinette, will work. We will all find out in the next few days! (One thing about Instant Gratification is that it's clearly not false advertising. This thing is FAST.)

Kitchener is still a challenge.

I still have to get out my copy of Knitting for Dummies (really, it's a good book) and turn to page 261-2 to do kitchener stitch. But I'm getting a little better at it.

I learned a couple things this morning:
1. Kitchenering with Cascade Fixation is extra-hard. The yarn sticks to itself and coils around every needle you don't want it to coil around.
2. Bent-tip Chibi, while good for many things, do not shine at kitchenering Cascade Fixation.
3. My tension was a little looser on sock #2 than on sock #1, so they are distinctly fraternal, and one is very slightly larger than the other. But not enough that I would do it over.

However, I have completed -- though not yet washed and blocked -- these Little Rune socks. First socks of Summer of Socks! And they only count for 1/2 a point...

Oh well. I'm just getting warmed up!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Happy Birthday Earin!

It's my blogbuddy Earin's birthday today, so I thought I'd do a HAPPY BIRTHDAY shout-out! I highly recommend her blog, too... Lots of pictures of her very cute, recently adopted kitten, as well as her other fine pets and the gorgeous countryside she lives in. Ya know, not to mention yarn. So go read it.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Good excuses...

I think this is a good excuse for not getting much knitting done:
It was Carson's first birthday party, and a good time was had by all.

We had some rough times, too, as just as my parents were catching their breath from my dad's mom dying last week, we got a call that one of my mother's closest friends for 40 years had been struck by a car and killed.

So much of this weekend was spent with family, and knitting didn't always seem appropriate.

It is therapeutic, though, so I did some:

My sister likes the sock colors, but Carson won't be able to wear them for a couple of years... they are huge.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Developing a Fixation...

Well, given that I have to stop work on the Sockottas soon.. that's my excuse..

I got that lovely Cascade Fixation yarn from my secret pal, but I was afraid to work on it. It felt strange and I thought, I'm going to mess this up -- stretch it too much or not enough -- or something. I don't want to waste it!

Then I remembered I had a single skein of Fixation in my stash, bought on deStash (love that place). Aha, I thought -- something to practice on.

So I was naughty, and, despite all my other WIPs, cast on trek's "Little Rune" socks for Carson (probably won't fit her for a few years).

Mmm. I like this yarn. I think it's easy to work with and I may cast on for my own sockies with my SP yarn after I finish these.

Poopoo. I knit too densely.

Yeah. So, I was working along happily on my cuffed Sockottas, when it occurred to me that the remainder of the ball was looking... let's say SLIM. I put it on the scale, and, yipes! 60g left. This 100-g ball is all I have for two socks! And here's where I am on the sock:
There's still a lotta toe to go, here. I guess you use up a lot of yarn with size 0 needles and fancy cuffs.

What to do? Sockotta, which is 45% cotton, 40% superwash wool, and 15% nylon, doesn't come in solids. I spent some time poking around the Web last night to see what had similar fiber combinations, and could find nothing exactly like it. However, Regia (I love Regia anyway!) Cotton, at 37% cotton, 38% wool, and 25% nylon, is at least close. I found it at TheKnitter.com, which I like (and free shipping -- very nice), and picked this color of light blue: . Hopefully it'll match closely enough (I realize it won't be exact) to be the toes of both socks. I'll just knit until I'm down to about ~52g (to be safe) of the Sockotta, then toe the rest of the way in blue. Cross your fingers it'll match; if not, I'll try the orange or the green .

Other Secret Pal Strikes Again!

Wow, she wasn't kidding about more goodies on the way. What a rocker Secret Pal! Check it out:

The little rubber T-shirts are for holding clusters of DPNs -- they even come with stickers so you can write the size on them. Too silly.

Then there are special pins for using with hand-knits (I suppose this means it's time to tackle a sweater!!), some stationery with friendly comments on each page, two postcards, and lots of nice tea.

The clear plastic thing is one of those cool zipper bags that keeps your yarn clean while you work. This means I can take my knitting safely into questionable places*. Though I figured out pretty quickly that you can't transfer things into it mid-project -- duh. The picture here is sideways for some reason (it's not on my screen), but you can probably get the idea.

* -- Now don't get all disgusting on me here! I promise I will NOT KNIT IN PUBLIC RESTROOMS, for example.

(Meanwhile, my Secret Pal 8 is in England on vacation and has been sending me emails and a cool postcard so I would know I wasn't forgotten.

They are both obviously Very Nice People who know I've been having a challenging few weeks. Thank you :-) )

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A bit o' knit

I did do a little knitting this weekend, to keep my hands busy and because Grandma would approve.

Sundara's "Caterpillar" yarn told me it wanted to be Clapotis. That hadn't been my plan, but I obeyed. Here's where I am now (I had to frog a bunch of false starts because of losing count -- little did I know I'd soon have a Kacha Kacha!!). I haven't gotten to the part where you get to drop stitches yet. Can't wait -- that sounds SO exciting!

Kinda looks like a jester's hat at the moment...

Here's how the cuffed Sockotta sock is looking. I did a garter stitch short-row heel over ~60% (instead of 50%) of the stitches, as recommended in a couple of articles I read, and I'm quite pleased with the way it feels and fits on.
I admit it looks a bit goofy when unstretched, but that's what you get when there's 2x2 rib on the other side.

And here's the loot I got from my Other Secret Pal! Check out that cheerful Cascade Fixation yarn. And the KACHA KACHA. Me love the Kacha Kacha. Me turn into Muppet at sight of Kacha Kacha.

Finally, I think you need to check out this picture from my friend Elinor's blog.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Back to the world...

We're just home from the services for Grandma in Los Angeles. They were good, we're sad, we're tired and drained -- as expected.

I got home to a wonderful package from my Other Secret Pal! A great surprise at the end of a difficult trip. I'll post pictures Thursday when I'm back at work, but there was sock yarn in gorgeous colors, patterns to use with them, and a Kacha Kacha!! Woooooohoo. I haven't used one before and didn't realize how robust they are, nor that they could lock so you don't mess the count up. *excellent*. You have no idea how frequently I have to count and recount because I've forgotten to put hatchmarks on a piece of paper. This is exciting -- I look forward to using it.

THANKS, Other Secret Pal! Your timing was excellent. These are cool goodies. And Grandma would be pleased.