Friday, February 27, 2009

I finish things. (Unless they're illness, apparently.)

I had just gotten over my flareup of the bacterial infection when I got a cold, and then of course the bacterial infection flared up again. So I've been home off and on and packing away the prescription medications. I've been too ill to knit very fast, but I have been knitting some, and I have been finishing things! For example:

My poor mom's socks, started July 2007 — all they needed was Kitchenering, if you can believe it. These look a little long because my mom wears a larger size than I do. These are in April's least favorite sock yarn — Cascade Fixation. I can understand not loving it, but it's really practical when you live in San Diego and can't wear merino year-round.

Then there's some merino — Sundara merino sock yarn, to be exact, in Bloodstone:

These ones are for me. I am still far from having enough handmade socks, though you wouldn't think so given my recent activity.

So the reason it looks like I have MORE WIPs than I did before — despite this bout of finishitis — is that I'm finally going through my blog and putting all my old projects into Ravelry. (I've just finished 2006, so I have a couple of years more to check through.) As I do this, I'm discovering some old WIPs that I'd kind of forgotten about. Hopefully this will inspire me to pick up the needles and finish!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I do not have second sock syndrome!

I do have a bad cold that has kept me down for several days now. Much of the time I was too tired to knit (I've actually been staying in bed until midday, which if you know me is just wacky!), but some of it I wasn't:

Gotta love those great Sundara color blends. I tend to wash all my handmade wool socks by hand, even the superwash ones, dunno why, so I hope this will wear well. Then again I have a bad habit of going outside in them and tromping around on the bricks and concrete, which is probably harder on them than machine washing...

And this isn't very exciting to look at, but hey, I found my other skein of Maizy! I really, really like the results with this yarn. They use an interesting twist that, as a non-spinner, I don't know how to describe — it has thicker and thinner bits, but it's very even. You'd think it was a chainette if you didn't look closely. Maybe it's two two-ply pieces plied together. Anyway, it's not easy to work with — it is splitty — but the resulting fabric is beyond nice. It's outstanding. I think the effort will be worth it for socks that I expect to wear all the time to work.

I'm trying to pull out my in-progress and abandoned projects and complete or toss them, one by one. It took me about a half-hour to determine where I was on this lovely cabled sweater, made with the Elann Quechua (alpaca and tencel — it just glows) I got with a gift certificate from the wonderful April. There is so little left to go — finish the V-neck/armhole on the right front, then seam, add a collar, and set in the sleeves (though the sleeves may need length-adjusting — we'll see). And I could really use this cardi for work.

Making progress.. on the cardi if not the cold!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I know, I'm naughty.

I have so many WIPs.. but just couldn't resist casting on another sock!

This is Sundara merino sock in Bloodstone. (Kraftie, you are the only person other than me who has some of this colorway on Ravelry. Great minds think alike!) I knit it with my new 6" US size 1.5 (2.5mm) steel dpns, which I picked up in Scottsdale. They're not always easy to find so I snapped them up. I love them for sock knitting — I knit the Kaffe Fasset ones with these as well. I get a tighter gauge than I do with the #2s I'd been using for Sundara yarn, so hopefully the socks will wear better.

Basic recipe here: Tubular cast-on (I used Ysolda's tubular cast on for 2x2 rib) 64 stitches. Work 2x2 rib for 15 rows. Knit one row. Work 5x3 rib (5 k, 3 p) for 50 rows (I don't like a super tall sock). Then K 37, do 3x5 rib over 27 for 7 rows (this adds some rows of stockinette above the heel). Then do a short-row heel over 35 stitches down to 11 stitches; I used Cat Bordhi's method for concealing wraps when they are picked up.

I also did a trick I learned in the first issue of INKnitter magazine — after picking up a stitch and its wraps, I then wrap the next stitch on the needle (a second time) before I turn. This makes for a beautiful heel with no holes. I didn't do this trick on the Kaffe Fasset socks and it has holes. You probably can't see the difference here, but just in case, I'm pasting in photos:

Then I just knitted the foot — K 37, do 3x5 rib over 27 — for 45 rows, knit three rows of stockinette, and did a Round Toe, as they fit me well and don't require grafting. I hate grafting :-)

And now I have one Bloodstone sock and one of the Maizey Bittersweet socks done. As soon as I find the other ball of Maizey I'll finish that pair...

P.S. The mittens have been blocked, but the problem was overtwisting the colors between the rows, so it made a lumpy raised line that wouldn't "block out". However I don't think they will be noticed much in regular wear because it's not on the inside!

Monday, February 16, 2009

I think from now on I'll only make one of everything.

Okay, just kidding. I did go on and finish the other sock and mitten. But no matchy-matchy!

I love the Kaffe Fasset socks. To my delight, the two skeins were wound in reverse of one another, so the colors developed in the opposite direction. The feet are perfectly opposite, each starting the heel with the colors the other has at the toe:

I think it came out great. I did mess up a little on the second leg — I had two rows more before I started the perl bump row, so I finished the leg with two rows fewer in the last 2x2 set. I think no one will notice and the legs are the same length, so who cares? Certainly not me — it just adds to the funkiness.

These weren't made with a pattern — just a basic recipe. From my notes on Ravelry: Tubular CO 64; knit 1x1 rib for 10 rows; change to broken rib pattern: [rows 1-5 2x2 rib, row 6 P across]. Do 7 sets. 2x2 rib for 4 more rows. 5 rows stockinette. Short-row heel over 38 stitches down to 14 (I think next time I should do 34 stitches down to 12). Stockinette to 2” from toe (42 rows in my case). French toe.

They fit like a charm. Now I just need about 15 more pairs and I'm set... I really want to wear handknit socks almost every days.

The mittens were strangely hard! They are Cheryl Niamath's Handsome Mittens from IK. I had a tough time changing colors every row and each mitten has a slightly different set of imperfections because of my attempts. I need to find some clear instruction on how to twist yarns — maybe a YouTube because I am just not getting it right from written instructions. Also, my 1x1 ribbing is tooooo loose, as always. I need to work on that. Still, I'm proud of these lovely alpaca beasties. They are going to a friend whose hands are longer and slimmer than mine, so hopefully my compensation for that (I worked the width instructions for the Small size and the length instructions for the Medium size) will work out. They are softer than soft and knit with a great deal of love, even if they aren't perfect.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Argh spew bumblefrock.

Not really. It's just that sewing up a picot hem is completely eluding me. Most of this knitting and sewing was done weeks ago — just haven't been able to bear to blog about it, or try again!, until now.


The Briar Rose is a sweet, sweet little pullover and the little girl it's destined for is very deserving. But the only way I've done picot hems before was with a provisional cast-on, knitting two together when I formed the hem and continuing up from there. This pattern has you knit from a regular cast-on and sew up the hem later. I didn't think that sounded too bad. But I should have tried it before I knit so much of the garment — because I'd have to start all over to do it differently!

So first I just tried to sew up the hem. It took about 1 second to realize it wasn't a good idea to use the body yarn, Magic Buttons, which has little lumps all through it :-) I didn't have any sock yarn in purple — not really a humongous fan of purple, I know that's sacrilege — so I took the closest I had, some Sundara in Lenten Rose. It turns out to be way different, kind of a pinky silver-grey, but oh well — it shouldn't show.

Hemming FAIL. I had no idea how to match up the rows of perl stitches on the back with the cast-on so the picots stayed aligned, and after only a few stitches they were out of sync. So instead of saw-teeth, they just looked like a blur.

Idea! I'll sew a running stitch in and out of the body, going around each stitch. I can see the two-stitches-per-tooth on the picots easily, so this should help me keep the count on the body part I'm trying to sew to. I used bright turquoise yarn:

It turned out to be challenging to see to 'gozinta' and 'gozouta's of the running stitch on the back...

but I plunged ahead:

And from the back it looked pretty good:

But from the front, as you can maybe see at the right side here, I was lapsing into blurry picots again. Somehow I'd gotten off count.

I'm going crazy. Is there a better way? I really do want to finish this pullover!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

A new post and it's only been four days!

Heck, I have photos enough saved up for about 5 posts. I think that's often what slows me down from posting — I don't have any pictures of what I'm up to. But now I have too many...

I finally, finally, FINALLY finished Madeleine on Weds., and posted it to England. It's five months late, and I hope it'll fit the little girl it's meant for. If not, I'll make her a new item and treat this as a learning experience: If you hate sewing on buttons with i-cord loops, don't put them in your garment design. I finished knitting this months ago. It was frustration with the dratted buttons and i-cord loops, which kept coming out and going on wrong, that made this take forever.

Whatever I have learned, I have not learned to sew in labels neatly. I really do try. I don't know why they give me so much trouble.

My cat really wanted to get into the photo shoot, so I'm indulging her.

I'm happy with many things about this design, but I also think I'll be changing it some as I try to make the pattern more generic and write it up. I don't think I'll stay with this "Madeline" style of button (it was originally inspired by the Madeline series of books, though I can't find a picture of her actually wearing this style of button-across button, so it may not have been from there in the first place). My aunt warned me it would break up the line of the garment, and though I still think it's kind of cool, I might pick something else — ties, or edge buttons, or who knows what.

Ideas welcome!

On another note, I know I said a few posts ago that I'd award a new knitting magazine to someone who guessed (not correctly, just guessed) what my rainbow splotches were from cooking (they were, by the way, sugar icing from marbled cookies — just powdered sugar mixed with rice milk and food coloring). The winner according to is Johanna, so I'll be contacting her for an address to send on her magazine.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Back from Tempe, AZ

I spent a few days at a great work-related conference in Tempe, AZ and now I'm back, having shopped at a couple of yarn stores while I was there — Tempe Yarn and Fibers and Knitting in Scottsdale. Both have great, friendly staff members and a decent selection — Tempe Y&F in particular has gotten better and better over time.

I bought Cascade 220 Superwash for a bright pink Starsky Jr. for my niece (probably for this coming winter, not for now), some lovely soft Plymouth Baby Alpaca worsted for some Handsome Mittens for a friend (you'll see pics soon), some Filatura di Crosa extrafine merino in a tweedy black and white for, I think, a Sweet Honey Beret, and finally some of the Kaffe Fassett Regia in "Clay" for some brightly colored socks for ME. memememe, my favorite person to knit for (I know, sad).

I have some stored-up old photos I have to show you later this week or next, but in the meantime here is some of what I'm up to right now.

Yep. I started another pullover for Rob. I am just so mad at the colorwork one right now I can't even swatch the new yarn I bought (in a different dye lot) to see if it'll have a hope of working. I'm vaguely grumpy at the designer, because the measurements DO match the schematic and there's still nowhere near enough yardage called for. Worse, though Rob does have gorilla arms, these aren't even close. I think as designed they'd be 4" too short. So, ya know. It is in the bag until I am ready to face it. Meanwhile I started Ann Budd's Old Way Gansey for Rob. The yarn, from Webs, is this decadent Shepherd 12-ply 100% Lambswool Felted (don't be fooled, it's 16.5sts=4", not bulky weight) in Bark, a lovely rich brown. So far it's just easy peasy stockinette. I did a nice fat tubular cast-on because I wanted a more elastic bottom, plus I wanted to play with tubular cast-ons. They are fun. Spring spring spring!

And then there is this:
Okay, it's not new. I started this poor Reversai in MAY 2008. I mislaid the pattern at some point and wasn't sure where I was, so I stopped. Then I found it and the tape had fallen off so I still wasn't sure. Finally I realized you can just read the pattern and figure it out, so I did. I may have made one or two errors but I'm not very picky, these are for me to wear to work, so I am ignoring that and keeping on :-)

Like Dave, I'm doing UnReversais. I'm doing the heel as written, which is dumb because I know it won't fit me. I need a 60% heel when doing short-row heels, at least, not a 50%. But I just felt stubborn so I did it that way anyway. I may have a little bunching in front of the ankle. Weirdly, I don't care. I'm doing a French Toe because I am lazy and it fits me well. I may actually finish this sock and start the next one.. but don't hold your breath.

Gotta say, LOVING that Maizy yarn. It's incredibly soft and my feet are happy every time I try it on. I think I may have to make more socks in this stuff, even though it's splitty. It's worth the splittiness.