Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It's Wednesday Again. Already.

Wow. The weekend just flew by. I'm not exactly sure what I did - I think part of Sunday involved having some of my knitting friends over for crafting, but my memories are a little on the dim side, as I think I had more wine than I meant to. There's still plenty of the red left, but I think the white tasted better because it was so hot outside. Yep, that's why - it was just so refreshing.

Anyway, there has been actual progress on the Aran Isle sock. I've gotten the leg done and have turned the heel, so now I'm working on the gusset decreases and then the feet. As usual, these are going two-at-a-time on one long circular. It's such an efficient way to do them that I can't imagine ever doing them singly, or on double-pointed needles. I know, I know, different strokes and all that.

I'm thinking about what my next project will be, as it seems like lately I've been doing lots of quick 'n' dirty projects and not so much with the long-term commitment projects. Heidi Kirmeier's Buttercup has been near the top of my queue for some time, as has Muriqui's Lapse of Reason. I think Buttercup would be a good candidate to start next, as once the fiddly bit has been completed around the neckline, the rest of it should be a piece of cake - just miles of stockinette with a little bit of scallopy lace at the hem. I have another color of the Rowan Revive in mind for it. This is the yarn I used to make Vesper - it's lovely. You can see it in the photo below.

Lapse of Reason is under consideration because I've really been looking forward to using the Great Adirondack Silky Bamboo Sport that I got at the Super Bowl sale. The colors are so beautiful (see below) - and the finished moebius shawl would be nice to wear on the plane on my way to Sock Summit. I can start on either right away, as I intend to use stash yarn for both.

Y'all want to help me decide? I'd love to hear what you think. Until next time, then.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Finished object, you say? I have it right here.

Since I finished that little, bitty baby cardigan last week, I took a minute to think about some coordinates to go with it, as no self-respecting baby (or her mother) would leave the house wearing just the sweater. So I decided to make some booties. It was handy that there was some yellow yarn leftover after finishing the cardi.

I went looking around on Ravelry for some booties that could be made out of dk-weight yarn, rather than sport or fingering weight, since the Cotton Rich was, you know, DK. Anyway, the winner of the pattern search was Baby's Shoe, Figure 6 from an old Girls' Own Paper pamphlet, which was apparently originally published in 1880. There's an actual scan of the pamphlet on the interwebs, which you can look at yourself. Of particular interest is the "Answers to Correspondents" section at the end. They haven't printed the questions they're answering, but many of the answers are pretty funny. I mean, they're funny if you're not the person who wrote the letter.

For example:
Constance - We admire your wish to earn something to help in so good a cause; but, as you are at school, we think that your first duty is to take advantage of your present opportunities. Spelling, writing and composition all need attention.

Adda - Could you not knit some pretty mittens, or baby's socks? They would be more likely to sell than painted cards or pincushions. Clothing for poor children is the best of all contributions, as the sale serves a double purpose. You do not write well.

I am so glad I never wrote to the Girls' Own Paper. I can only imagine the things they'd have to say about my composition and penmanship. Yikes.

Anyway, the booties. They're cute! And yellow! They were knit flat, then seamed. I suppose that's because, as a girls' magazine, most of their readers were novice knitters who might not have had the dexterity for double pointed needles. And straights were readily available. And circular needles weren't invented yet? (I'll have to look this up.) I ran out of yarn on the second bootie, with about 10 rows to go and without having done the crochet edging. I actually had to undo the corresponding number of rows on the first one, so they'd match up. The only thing I have left to do is find some cute ribbon to go through the eyelets, then they'll be completely finished. I'll probably start the coordinating turban soon, as it's just too damned cute not to.

Next time, I'll have an update on the Aran Isle socks. They're going kind of slowly, as I'm only really working on them on the bus. I've got most of the leg done and expect to start on the heels after the weekend. It's been fairly cool (and wet!) lately, so working with the alpaca hasn't been too bad. It's starting to warm up, though, so no telling what I'll think about it then. Until next time, then.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Wow, that was fast.

So, last week I cast on for the Lazy Daisy cardigan. It's already finished! I had no idea it would go so quickly! I mean, yeah, the daisy stitch section was going fast and the sleeves were just garter stitch, but dang. I still have to wash and block it, but I think I can, in good conscience, call it finished. Here are some pics:

Short and sweet today, friends. See you next time!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

WIPs Wednesday? Alright, I'll play along.

I read a couple (read: many) craft blogs, and a good number of them do a WIPs (Work In Progress) Wednesday, so I've decided this would be a good time for me to do a WIP post. Since last time, I've cast on for a couple new projects.

First, I've cast on a new pair of socks! It's Stephanie van der Linden's On The Aran Isle pattern from her Around the World in Knitted Socks book. In a demonstration of learning from one's mistakes, I'm using a yarn with comparable yardage to what's recommended: Classic Elite's Alpaca Sox. I realize that even though it feels like summer here (90 degrees Fahrenheit today!) and that knitting with an alpaca yarn in this heat & humidity isn't exactly fun, the yarn was in my stash and it's the right weight & yardage. I also like the color and I think they'll be very pretty when they're done.

I'm really enjoying the traveling stitches - they're definitely keeping my interest up. I also like the picot hem at the top of the cuff, although it was very tedious working off the provisional cast on. If I were making these socks for myself, I'd probably add enough stitches for another pattern repeat  on the leg, as they're a little snug going around my heels. I think they'll be fine for Mom's delicate little feet.

For a more summery project, I've cast on Anna & Heidi Pickle's Lazy Daisy baby cardigan. I'm knitting it in Cascade Yarns Cotton Rich DK, which is a nice cotton in some very bright, vibrant, saturated colors. It's a free pattern on the Pickles blog (well, the 3-6 months size is free, you have to pay for bigger sizes). So far, it's been an easy knit. The stitch pattern is simple to memorize, and since it's such a tiny, little sweater, it should knit up pretty quickly. I have a couple friends who are expecting babies this fall, but I'm not sure this sweater will fit next Spring. I may have to hold on to it for someone who has a January or February baby. I'm sure someone I know will be having a baby then.

If I have enough yarn when I've finished the cardigan, I may just try to make the turban. It's almost a little too precious, but seriously, what's cuter than a baby in a turban?

I'm also still working on the Kusha Kusha scarf, but it's not as interesting as the other projects. It's just a whole lot of stockinette stitch on bamboo straights, so not a lot of fun. It's good to have during social knitting, so I might just take it with me to Stitch 'N' Bitch tomorrow night. If it ever looks like I've made any progress on it, I'll take a picture and post it here.

Looks like that's all I have for today. Until next time, friends.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Why I Like Toe-Up Socks. Or, A Lesson in Yarn Substitution.

This. This is why I like toe-up socks. When you start at the toe and work your way up, you can just stop when you run out of yarn. With a cuff-down sock, if you run out of yarn, you're kinda screwed. You have to get more yarn and it isn't always possible to get more of the same dye lot, or even the same color. In the case of this poor sock, I happened to have some Kollage Luscious left over from the Lotus socks, so I was able to finish the toes of both socks, but just barely. At least I had done these two at a time, so I had a matched pair with pink toes. It would really have sucked to have one all-green sock and one with 2 inches of pink on the foot.

Of course, all this could have been avoided if I had bought a second skein of yarn (but at >$20/skein, not bloody likely). Or purchased a yarn with more yardage. Or used it with a pattern with fewer stitches around. And this is where we begin to think a little harder about substituting yarn. See, the pattern recommended two balls of Regia 4-ply at 229 yards each. I used one skein of Kollage Luscious at 345 yards. Did you do the math? Had I used the recommended yarn, or something a little more like it, I'd have had more than 100 yards more yarn to work with - that's 50 yards per sock! I totally would have made it. I really should read that stuff more closely.

Another way I could have avoided this situation was to have chosen a different pattern. The Vacation In The Mountains pattern has a 78-stitch round. Many of the socks I've made until now have been of the 64-stitch variety. With the gauge I knit, that's a pretty comfortable sock. I have thick calves, so if the number of stitches goes up, I'm alright with that as well. Once I started reading the pattern, I was a little worried about the number of stitches in the round, not because I thought I'd run out of yarn, but because I thought they might be too loose. As it turned out, they're not especially loose because there are so many twisted and traveling stitches. A k2, p2 rib would have been ridiculously loose, but this was a nice, comfy leg.

So, what have we learned? First, pay attention to the pattern. This was a good one, with all the information I needed. I ignored it at my peril. Second, pay attention to yardage. I usually have yarn left over after a pair of socks. Not this time. Also my fault. And lastly, think about whether the pattern might work toe-up. I might have stopped the cuff with half a chart repeat, rather than doing a full one. As it is, I have a friend who is perfectly happy to have a pair of green socks with a pink toe, so all is well with the world.

One last thing: it's Mothers' Day here in the US, so I want to wish all you mothers a happy day. I hope your kids are doing nice things for you in thanks for all you do for them. My own Mom lives a 4-hour drive from me, so I won't be seeing her today, but I'm calling her directly. This photo of a Mama Robin feeding her chicks is the best I could get of the nest since the babies hatched. The quality isn't all that great, but I think it was appropriate for today. Until next time, then.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I'm Going (Redux)

To Portland, Oregon, for Sock Summit! Wheee! I'm really excited. I fully expect the city to be lovely, with only a little of what Fred Armisen & Carrie Brownstein are having so much fun with.

I'll be taking 3 classes from some really fabulous instructors whose work I really admire. First, I'm taking "Holes in our Socks" with Anne Hanson. I really like her aesthetic. I've made her Alhambra scarf twice and have many more of her designs in my Ravelry queue. I have made lace socks before and can't wait to hear her take on it. My second class is "Seismic Socks" with Lorilee Beltman. I've got a few of her patterns in my queue as well, all of them socks. I'm excited about this class, as I'm very curious about this vertical intarsia business. Plaid socks without duplicate stitch! Lastly, I've got "Intarsia with a Twist" with Anne Berk, who, I understand, is a total badass. I have to admit I'm a little scared and intimidated by her rock star status. I have a feeling I'm going to learn a lot in this class and I can't wait to soak up some knowledge.

Of course, one of the big attractions of Sock Summit is the Marketplace. I feel like I could pee my pants, I'm so excited. My husband is less so, but so he often is. It's a yin & yang thing, I think. There will be more than just yarn here, and I can't wait to see all the goodies! I was looking at one vendor's glass needlework accessories, but I'm afraid they're more expensive than I can afford. I will, however, look longingly at them while trying not to drool. Actually, I think not drooling on things will be a good goal for getting through the marketplace.

That's all I have for tonight. Next time, I speak to the frustration one feels upon finding three knots in one skein of sock yarn.

I'm Going

Monday, May 2, 2011

As the Heel Turns

According to my Ravelry project page, I have been working on my Vacation socks for exactly two weeks now. For a multitude of reasons, I've been making fast work of these socks. A big part of it was having something like 4 hours in the car on Easter Sunday to work on them. Then there was the all-day Vacant Property Summit, which gave me plenty of time to knit while the speakers were speaking. And then there's been all the rain we've been having lately. It's the coldest, wettest Spring I can remember, which has been conducive to my knitting.

Anyway, I've turned the heel on the socks and have completed one chart repeat, with one to go. I may be cutting it a little close on the yardage, as this sock is 78 stitches around. I think I'll end up making these socks for my mom, who is so kind as to have size 7 feet, which are shorter than my own size 8.5 feet. This will save me about ... 3/4 of an inch in length. Still, it's shorter, so I might just make it with the yarn I've got. I don't really have much choice in the matter, as my LYS has closed, so I would have to look very hard to get more of the same yarn. If worse comes to worst, I'll make the toe a different color and keep them for myself. Mom won't care much for accidentally bi-colored socks.

If all goes well this week, I might be able to finish these socks and start on a State Fair project. I'm thinking I want to enter a few more categories this year than the three I entered last year. I have completed a couple projects that I think will be good for the Fair, but I'm not telling what they are just yet. Last year I got a Second, a Third, and a Fourth and this year I'd like to get at least one first. Some categories, I think, will be very competitive: Lace, Socks, Baby Sweaters. It was in Socks that I got a Third Place, behind a pair of child's kilt socks and a pair of stranded Wollmeise Wallflowers (made by a friend, which made it slightly less disappointing). Friends of mine went 1-2 in Lace, and if anyone else I know enters their work, I don't have a snowball's chance in hell at doing well in that category. And, seriously, the Baby Sweater category is so full of the cute, that I'll have to bring out the big guns to do well. Last year's winner made a freaking Fair Isle baby sweater.

I think that's all the strategizing I can do in one post. Until next time, then.