Saturday, December 21, 2013

Socks: done, started, yarn purchased.

I never did put up the photos of the finished Scylla socks that I made for my friend Dan, so I thought I'd show them now. It feels like I finished them ages ago, but according to their Ravelry project page, they were finished a mere week and a half ago. It's really a nice pattern: the repeats are easy to memorize and the heel is my favorite toe-up solution. And while the socks look a little more red than brown in the photo, I still like how they turned out. Even better is that they actually fit the recipient, which makes me very happy.

With that project finished, I needed another portable project to work on, so I finally cast on the Zirkel socks again. This time I'm doing them in the cream with a contrasting semi-solid yarn, rather than the self-striping I'd mistakenly chosen the first time. They're coming along so much better this time! I'm also doing them one at a time, on double-pointed needles. It almost feels like I'm learning to knit again, what with the dpns and the colorwork. Since this is stranded, I'm carrying one yarn in my left hand, picking, and carrying the other in my right hand, throwing. My tension seems to be getting better too, especially since I decided to do the side spacing in stripes, rather than having a 5 (or more) stitch float at the end of the repeat. I don't have a deadline for these socks, so I'm going to take my time on them. Maybe they'll be done by spring?

Lastly, I thought I'd put up pics of the yarn I bought while I was in Ft. Wayne over Thanksgiving. You might remember that I'd taken all kinds of photos, and then lost them. I took new pics this week of the two skeins I picked up: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Camouflage and Black Trillium Fibre Studio Merilon Sock in Earth. They're both a little darker than what I usually choose, but I needed to get more masculine colors into my stash. I seem to have a lot of pretty greens and pinks in my stash, most of which aren't superwash and don't make good gifts for men. I'm sure at least one of the new skeins will become socks for my husband and the other will likely be for a friend to whom I promised a pair of socks for his next birthday. I guess I should get on that - his birthday is in February.

So that's it for now. Merry Christmas! Until next time, Friends.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

My Kingdom for a Button! (With apologies to W. Shakespeare)

I can't be the only knitter who's fussy about buttons, right? I mean, if you're going to put a couple months and 100-ish dollars into a project, you can't just slap any old thing on it. I think I went to something like 4 stores before I found some acceptable buttons for my Rafters cardigan.

First, while I was in Fort Wayne over Thanksgiving, I checked in at Knitting Off Broadway for buttons. They have a great selection of buttons - sadly, the ones I liked for this project were too small. Then yesterday morning I went to Sophie's Fine Yarn (I'd gotten the buttons for my Zori cardigan there). Right away I found buttons that were a perfect color match for this sweater. Yay, right? Nope. They were too big for the buttonholes and I wasn't about to re-knit that band. Luckily, I found the same color in the right size, except there were only 4 buttons for my 5 buttonholes. Argh! There were plenty of other buttons that were almost right, but not quite, so I was off to the next store, The Smocking Shop. They didn't have any buttons that were right for my cardigan, but they had plenty that would be great for heirloom hand-sewn items like christening gowns and caps. But something they did have was an employee who knew of a local artist who makes buttons and where to find her. While I was in the shop she called the artist and asked if it would be alright to send me to her home for some buttons (I wasn't so sure about this, but this is Kentucky and a lot of people would think this is No Big Deal.). In any event, the artist said she was delivering some buttons to one of my favorite gallery shops, Edenside Gallery, just that moment, and I could sort through the buttons there.

Before I left the east end of town, I went up the road to Joann Fabrics, just in case they might have what I was looking for. As much as I try to buy as many of my supplies as possible from locally-owned businesses, sometimes you just have to go to a chain store. It turns out they had just the right buttons for this sweater: the right color, the right size and simple enough that they would not distract from the gorgeous cables which are rightly the focus of this sweater.

I saved the stop at Edenside for last because it's been one of my favorite shops ever since I came to Louisville. They have all kinds of gorgeous ceramics and glass and metalwork and jewelery, lots of it made by local artists. I've bought gifts there for friends and I've bought more than a few things for myself. I think their shop is one of the few places where someone could buy me anything and it would be right. (Not that that's a hint, or anything. Not really.) Anyway, I took my time looking around the shop, coveting everything, and managed to overlook the buttons I'd gone in for. Once one of the ladies pointed them out to me, I decided quickly that they would be perfect for my next sweater project, Streymoy, from the most recent Knitty. The buttons are made from acorn caps that the artist, Lindsay Frost, has filled with lichen and epoxy. They're quite charming, and are much less twee in person than their description implies. After my husband saw them, he liked them as well, so I'm pretty excited to be able to use them on his new sweater.

Well, that's all for now, Friends. Next time I'll have photos of the finished Scylla socks and the beginning of the Zirkel socks I've started. Until then.

Monday, December 2, 2013

I got out of the house for a minute.

Last Thursday was Thanksgiving here in the US, so I was in Fort Wayne (Indiana) for the holiday. I had planned on just staying for a couple days, but once the Simply Socks Yarn Co. announced that the Yarn Harlot would be in town for some workshops and a lecture, I decided I could extend my visit long enough to go the lecture. As she was speaking on Saturday evening, it gave me a chance to finally go to the store and check out all their yarns in person. I'd been wanting to do this for a long time, but the shop is only open on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and I never seemed to be there when the shop was open.

I got to the shop about 90 minutes before closing time, hoping to be able to take a couple laps around before I had to make any decisions. The shop is in a building that had been a post office when I lived in the neighborhood more than 20 years ago. It still had all the glazed tiles on the walls and the terazzo flooring at the front where the service windows once were, but all the interior walls had been removed and replaced with colorful, squishy, glorious yarn! Right up front was a great big selection of Madelinetosh yarns, in the DK and the sock yarn and Alchemy, Dream in Color and Three Irish Girls on the left. There were so many, many yarns I wanted,  but I managed to exercise a little restraint and only bought one skein of Lorna's Laces sock and one of Black Trillium Fibres Merillon sock. Any others I want I can order online now that I've felt it up in person.

I had been hoping to complete my Rafters cardigan in time to wear it at the lecture, but, sadly, it wasn't even close. A week ago, I thought I might be able to knit up the sleeves and button band in time. I was so wrong! I only managed to get about 1/3 of the sleeves done (both sleeves at the same time), and it wouldn't have mattered if I'd gotten the button band done since I didn't even have any buttons. I just really wanted to have a show-offy sweater to wear to meet the Yarn Harlot. I ended up wearing my Zori cardigan and getting lots of compliments on it from all the nice knitters who were in attendance. One person even went so far as to say she wanted to make it for herself, as she liked the traveling stitches in the yoke. I'm glad to hear it - there are only 5 Ravelry project pages for it, so it'll be nice to have another one out there in the world.

After I finished up at the yarn shop, I went down a couple doors to a little coffee shop that's in an old converted firehouse. I needed to kill a little time before the lecture, and I wasn't the only knitter with that idea - I met some women from Anderson and from Indianapolis who had come up for the day. I made a little more progress on the sleeves of my cardigan and had a nice chat with Luke the Barista about how many people had paid to go to IPFW to hear a lady talk about knitting. He was completely astonished that so many people would come from so far for such a thing. But when I brought up how far people will travel for gaming cons and stuff like that, it seemed to make sense to him. This was something the Yarn Harlot touched on in her speech too, which was in turns enlightening, touching and hilarious and to which I can't do justice here. Let me just say that if you have the chance to go to one of her appearances or take one of her workshops, do it. You won't be sorry. There is a reason she makes her living doing this: she is good at what she does.

And on that note, I'll consider this post finished. I've nearly finished the Scylla socks, but I'll leave the details until next time. Until then, Friends.

P.S. When I wrote this post, I thought I had a whole lot of photos to support the text, even one of myself that I liked with the Yarn Harlot. Sadly, I had a Windows 8-related problem importing the pics and may or may not be able to recover them. If I can get them, I'll post them, otherwise, y'all are just going to have to trust me when I tell you I had good photos.