Saturday, January 27, 2007

Knitterly Vibes Welcomed Here...

So tonight I cast on for my sock-swap partner's socks.
I am in love with the pattern so far, and I'm praying that these turn out.
I have about 3" done, and it is to the point where I am just starting to see the pattern emerge -- not enough to be 100% confident that it is working out correctly.

Choosing the pattern was a major ordeal; I went from one, to the next, to the next.
I thought I had settled, so I cast on a practice sock, just to make sure that it would work, and fit.
I made mistake after mistake, and ended up ripping it out after about 4".
Not the pattern's fault .. definitely mine.

Through serendipity, this morning I stumbled on the perfect pattern.
Since I don't have a lot of time (they are due to my partner on 2/28, and I am traveling the last week of February, so I have a self-imposed deadline of 2/21), I decided to throw caution to the winds and skip the practice sock.

So, no visuals. She knows where my blog lives, and it's a surprise.

But here's a photo from a week or so ago that I never posted. My belated Christmas present ... what a treat to not have to hand-wind yarn, using one of the kids' chairs as a swift. Isn't it gorgeous???

I've also engaged in a bit of shopping over the last few weeks, which I should probably confess. Purchases include:

  • A blocking board (yay!)
  • A set of antique sock blockers from ebay -- aren't they cool?:

  • A sock yarn assortment from (what a bargain -- it's the self-patterning fake fair-isle type, at $4/ball -- perfect for making socks for the girls).
  • Knitpicks Gloss for socks.
  • The Imbas celtic sock kit from I had planned on casting on for this on St. Patrick's Day, but the instructions look to be a bit over my head right now. These may have to wait a bit.
  • A ball of Tofutsie's sock yarn in pink, for the Belle.
  • Some new crochet hooks -- I keep losing mine.
  • 1 skein of Malabrigo chunky to make myself a pair of mittens.
  • 2 skeins of handpainted alpaca, destined to be some warm socks for me.
  • And I signed up for 2 cable classes with Melissa Leapman, author of the fabulous Cables Untangled.
Gee, on second thought, it might not be so good to spell it all out like that. Yikes.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Finally, show and tell!!

They are done!!
My first "real" socks ever.

Yarn: Knitpicks Simple Stripes, in the Sunset colorway
8 sts./in, size 1 dpns

Pattern: Charlene Schurch's Garter Rib Socks pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks. However, I omitted the garter rib and did plain stockinette.

Time: approximately 3 weeks. I don't really remember when I cast on.

Notes: They fit Bean's foot perfectly; the cuffs are slouchy because she wanted ankle socks, and I didn't adjust the number of stitches at the cast-on. I think that if I had knit these to fit at her calf, they would probably be OK -- but I'm not positive. She likes them, regardless.

They are "fraternal" socks, in that the stripes don't match ... I tried, and came within 2 rows of matching, but then the 2nd ball of yarn did a weird thing and changed pattern on me. It's OK, she's been wearing mismatched socks (intentionally) since Christmas, so these are not any different.

Point of interest: I finished sock #1 but did not graft the toe before finishing sock #2. So the other night, I had 2 socks with just the toe graft left. Coincidentally, I had that day received in the mail Lucy Neatby's Sock Techniques DVD. On that DVD, she demonstrates her "toe chimney" method of finishing.

Being that these socks were for a non-picky 7 year old, I decided to experiment. The first sock was finished using the toe chimney method. The second sock was done in the traditional Kitchener stitch.

Here are the results (sorry the photos aren't clearer; I hope you can see the difference).

photo 1: toe chimney method
photo 2: kitchener stitch method

Prior to this, I had only kitchenered worsted weight toes. They came out just fine. So when I was working the toe chimney, I was thinking that it was too fiddly, was taking too long, and might not be worth the extra effort. Then I kitchenered the second toe. What a mess. I was so afraid of pulling the stitches too tightly that I left a huge gap in the first stitches. If the Bean had worn it like that, she would have put a toe through it on the first wearing.

I was later able to adjust the stitches by tightening along the entire toe, which ended up taking even longer than the toe chimeny method. And frankly, Kitchenering on the tiny needles with tiny yarn was far more fiddly than the chimney method. So I think that from now on, it's a toe chimney for me.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Dear Knitty SP8:

Dear Knitty SP8:
I know that I haven't updated my blog in awhile. I've been crazy busy with work, and finishing up these socks. They should be done tonight. I will do a full, lengthy update tomorrow.

Meanwhile, my favorite chocolate in the whole world is Fran's Chocolate covered caramels that are sprinkled with grey sea salt. Yum! They are too pricey, though, so anything chocolate and caramel mixed is wonderful. I've never said no to a Snickers bar. :)

Monday, January 8, 2007

In Which We Meet Studley Knit-Right: Revisiting the Past, Part II

A continuation of older net posts explaining my beginnings as a knitter; presented here to keep the archive complete. Part I is here.

Original post date: October 12, 2006:

OK, so part II of the story. Grandma taught me to knit and purl and sent me on my way. I proceeded to purchase KNITTING FOR DUMMIES, in a quest to figure out , well, everything.

Being spatially challenged, however, I found myself unable to translate the diagrams in the book (or any book -- I tried several) into actual motions. Enter DH. It went something like this:

"hon, can you help me figure it out?"
He grumbles and comes over to where I am sitting in a tangle of yarn.
"Give me the needles and the yarn," he says.
He looks at the book, and 1-2-3, does exactly what is pictured in the diagram.
"Now do it slower and show me," I say.
He does. I try it. I (mostly) grasp the concept.

This happens over and over, in the course of a few days.

I head off to the yarn store to replace the icky aluminum needles and Red Heart acrylic yarn. I get some bamboo needles (size 7) and Lion Brand wool. When I get home from work one afternoon, DH has half of a scarf done in 2x2 rib. Me, I'm still struggling with the purl stitch.

Off to the yarn store I go for some "professional" instruction.
"Show me what you know," the owner says.
I demonstrate what Grandma, DH, and KNITTING FOR DUMMIES has taught me.
"Oh," she says. "You knit that way.
That being Continental.
"I don't know Continental," she says. "I won't be able to help you much."
At this point, I'm not locked into anything, since what I was doing wasn't all that great anyway -- so I then became a 'thrower'.
I still get aggravated when I think of that ... shouldn't a knitting teacher at least be able to demonstrate both styles?
So I go home that evening, having a better grasp on my knitting and purling (literally -- she showed me how to hold the needles properly).
DH had ripped out the 2x2 rib scarf, and had started another -- this time it was the beginning of a cable scarf from Scarf Style.
If looks could kill ....

Since that time, DH has started and frogged more projects that I can remember. 3 scarves from SCARF STYLE, a hat of his own design (complete with seed stitch diamonds that he graphed out), a sock, and who knows what else. He likes the challenge ... and then he cruises along until he makes a mistake. Once the mistake happens, he rips it out, and starts something else. He is too bored and frustrated to start the same project over. There's good in that, though. DH has expensive tastes in yarn. And when he frogs ... it becomes MINE.

Note, 1/7/07: The knitting adventures of DH, whom I have sinced named Studley Knit-Right, will be continued in another post, as soon as I can steal his one FO and photograph it.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

In Which We Learn to Knit: Revisiting the Past, Part I

Before I decided to start a blog, I posted a few things on a knitting message board that introduced myself, explained how I got started, etc. In the interest of posterity, I am recreating those posts, here. Entries may have been edited a bit for clarity.

Original post date: October 12, 2006

I started knitting in August, on a whim, when I was visiting Grandma in Michigan. Grandma's 89, and an amazing seamstress ... so when I mentioned that I wanted to knit, she offered to teach me. She has arthritis and can't really knit anymore, so I'm glad I got her when I did! Of course, Grandma learned to knit so many years ago that she forgot what it was like to be a beginner, and wasn't sure why my 20-stitch cast-on quickly grew to 44 stitches. And I was using aluminum needles with Red Heart acrylic wool in a lovely shade of beige. Not the most conducive for knitting.

So back home, I quickly scoped out several of the local yarn stores, got some instruction (questionable, but that's another story) and have been happily knitting along ever since.

Finished objects: 1 scarf (Noro Kureyon, garter stitch, kid sized)
1 hat (first time on circs and double points)
1 hat (seamed up the back, icky chenille yarn, didn't fit and so was thrown away).

On the needles: Irish Hiking Scarf
Vertical striped garter stitch scarf for my youngest DD
2 socks on 1 circ (magic loop) - about 1" of each cuff done, put away until after the New Year
"Fuzzy Greenie" -- Instant Jacket pattern for a class I'm taking (my first sweater ever).

In the queue: Scarf for future SIL from elsebeth lavold Chunky AL
Scarf for my brother in Classic Elite Blithe
Branching out
FT Felted clogs for one of my DDs.

Note, 1/7/07: The 2 socks on 1 circ are still in hibernation, and will be frogged because I was doing them on #3s and won't like them; All of the items listed "in the queue" did not happen.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Not at all knitting related, but I found it amusing ...

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Northeast

Judging by how you talk you are probably from north Jersey, New York City, Connecticut or Rhode Island. Chances are, if you are from New York City (and not those other places) people would probably be able to tell if they actually heard you speak.

The Inland North
The Midland
The South
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Pretty darn accurate. I guess I've lost the little bit of midwestern speak that I know was still there in 7th grade (when I got laughed at for misprouncing the word 'Albany').

Thursday, January 4, 2007

A Mishmash of knitterly stuff ...

I have neglected to post about my knitting-related Christmas presents, mainly because I didn't think to photograph them until after dark, and no light = bad photos. But today, I remembered.

From hubby:

A set of KnitPicks Options needles. I love, love, love them. I later ordered the needles sizes that aren't in the set (13, 15, 17) and then the "standard" (noninterchangeable) 1, 2, and 3 circulars for Magic Loop.

Oh, and hubby told me to order a ball winder as well. He didn't know what kind to buy. So I ordered the ball winder, and of course needed a swift, so I got that as well.

I will need it to wind up my gift from Santa:

That's 8 skeins of Lorna's Laces. Santa had a little helper, who heard about a great deal on this sock yarn, and so it was handed to Santa unopened, who then placed it under the tree. I especially love the Black Watch colorway (the one on top of the pile).

In other news, my last two days have been spent trying to knit socks. Now that I'm feeling the pressure of the Socktopia KAL, I put everything else aside to concentrate on socks. As usual, I jumped right in, to rather diastrous consequences.

First, I decided that I would try 2 socks on 2 circulars, per the Queen Kahuna Crazy Toes and Heels book. I read through the book a couple of times. It made perfect sense, intellectually. I love the idea of a truly well-fitting sock, and something about toe-up appeals to me. And since I have already had Second Mitten Syndrome, I know that I'm a shoo-in for Second Sock Syndrome.

Well, it was not to be. First, I wasn't sure exactly how many stitches to cast on. I was making socks for the Belle, who is 4. Based on the measurements and calculations, I figured that I would need to cast on 7 stitches on each needle, per sock, but in the book, the author says that if it's for a child, use 5. So I cast on 5, and started working. I was supposed to increase to 20 stitches on each needle. It took about 5 rounds before I figured out that I was doing the M1L increase wrong. After I had increased to 16 stitches on each needle per sock, it still looked really small. Not having made a toe-up sock before, I decided to keep on. And with that, I picked up the wrong needle, and knit all of my stitches off the needle onto the other circular. Bad move.

I was faced with either moving the stitches back onto the other circular (and figuring out exactly how to do that so that it still worked), or frogging. I chose to frog.

While I love the idea of 2 socks at once, I don't love wrestling with the 2 yarn balls, untangling, etc. And since this is the second time that I've failed at using 2 circs, I think I will give it up for now.

I didn't have the longer needles for Magic Loop (they are en route from KnitPicks), so I decided to bite the bullet and cast on 1 sock on dpns. Here is the result so far:

Not too bad. I found the shorter dpns easier to work with, at least after the first couple of rounds. I am going to continue on with this sock. I wish I had another set of size 1 dpns, so that I could just cast on the 2nd sock and work on both in bits and pieces. My LYS doesn't have the shorter size dpns. But so far, so good.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

How I spent the first day of the year

I finished these, finally!

I did the complete second mitten today, from cast-on to bind off. I hadn't intended on that, as I already had about 4" of the ribbing done, but I got so frustrated with the dpns and this yarn that I frogged it all and started again on magic loop. I knit most of the day -- it took a lot longer than I remember mitten #1 taking. I finished at 11:15.

They are OK -- the stripes almost match up (I think they are off by 2 rows). The second mitten has some problems, especially where I needed to pick up the stitches at the base of the thumb. It's a good thing that it's for a 7 year old -- one who will probably lose at least one of the mittens before the winter is over. I didn't sweat the details, just wanted them done.

The Bean was very excited when she came downstairs this morning and found the completed pair of mittens at her breakfast spot. Too bad that it's 45 degrees today.

The details:

  • Pattern: An amalgam of two -- a basic mitten pattern was given to me by the LYS when I purchased yarn. However, it was knit back and forth, and I wanted to do a full project with dpns (ha!), so I converted it to in the round (with the help of my knitting instructor). When it came time for the decreases, I used another pattern that I found on the web to figure out how and when to decrease.
  • Yarn: Martifil Stripe 7934, less than 1 skein ($16.00 per ball). It's really nice yarn, if a little splitty. There are few places where there was some dark blue "flashing" in spots (you can see it on the right mitten in the photo). Not my fault, though The Bean noticed right away, saying "you made a couple of mistakes." I made more than a couple mistakes, but this was not one of them.
  • Needles: size 5 & 7, dpn (mitten #1) and magic loop(mitten #2)
  • Time: Hard to judge. Mitten #1 took a couple of days, and mitten #2 took most of one day.
  • New techniques learned: picking up stitches for the thumb (not so successful on my own -- mitten #1 was done under the guidance of my knitting instructor; I fudged mitten #2 and it is pretty messy.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Happy Un-doublepointed New Year

I hate dpns.
There, I said it.
I know I'm not alone, but I really despise them.
I wanted to love them.
I love the idea of them; there is something both traditional and zenlike about knitting on bamboo dpns, round and round and round.
But the idea of love does not a love make.

I just frogged the Bean's second mitten, which was on dpns. I'm starting over on magic loop.

Since I just signed up for the Knittyboard Sock Exchange, I need to master socks by February 28th (the date I need to send my socks to my partner). I don't have time to mess around with dpns. Immediate gratification is the key, and so magic loop (or maybe 2 circs) it shall be.