Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bits and bobs

What a week it has been (and looks like it will continue to be, as with most of my weeks lately), even on the yarny front.

I have been working steadily away on the decided-on size of my Mariner sweater in the evenings last thing, even if it's just for an hour before I fall over, and it's starting to look like something:

A very lumpy something, but hopefully that will come out in the wash, literally.  I still love everything about the half-linen stitch, by the way.  Who wouldn't?  The more there is of it, the more beautiful it looks to me.

I found a moth in the house last night.  It looks like an ordinary outside-the-house moth, too big for the wool-eating kind.  I'm sure I've seen this kind of moth lots of times before without sad consequences but it really, really freaked me out.

That might have been because I received more wool in the mail yesterday, the nature and purpose of which I cannot tell you right now, but having felt compelled immediately to wind it into workable yarn and get knitting, I am pretty sure you are totally going to want this pattern when it comes out.  Not necessarily because of my pattern (to which I must say I am growing quite partial) but because of the yaaarrrrnnn, oh boy.

Yarn I did not receive, again: my March club roving from Twisted Fiber Art.  Everybody but me and one other Canadian has had theirs for a couple of weeks and I've been resisting looking at their stash pictures.  If it doesn't turn up today or tomorrow I'm going to start posting a ClubWatch line at the end of everything I write until it gets here, because I need company in this particular misery.

Today it is rainy and miserable looking and I don't have to go out till later which makes it a perfect day for -

nope, not knitting. More storage-clearing.  Still, the sooner it's done, the sooner I get to knit with abandon again, so it's worth it, right? And maybe I can budget in a bonus hour for the Mariner, or the Newest Secret Project.  It's got the most irresistable yarn on the needles right now, and I will eversomuch need a treat.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I finished something

... and of course, it's the thing I started last.

The other night I noticed I had only the cuffs left to do so I sat down and did them.  I even remembered the ins and outs of the super stretchy bindoff without even looking at my notes this time!

That's because I've been finetuning my personalized toe-up recipe for so long now, I could do these components in my sleep.  Which is another way of saying I am getting a little tired of knitting toe-up socks.  Socks, even! which won't last, but will open the door no doubt to other kinds of small projects, if I can tear myself away from sweaters long enough to start any.

This time I did some fancy short rows just for the ankle and accidentally extended the heel flap, which was unfortunate because between the contrast toe, heel, and cuff and the heavily patterned main colour, I have ended up with freakishly long-looking heels.

That's okay though.  I will wear them with boots - they are too thick for my Mary Janes - and frankly they are so soft and squishy and flexible they could look like [insert something deeply unpleasant here] and I would still wear them.  Twisted Fiber Art's Duchess - treat yourself!

I still have some purple left - not enough for socks I don't think, but definitely for Turkish Bed Socks, so that pattern is moving up on the queue now.  Do Bed Socks count as socks?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Being careful not to twist

Of course you didn't think I'd have all that luscious sweater yarn in skeins for any longer than absolutely necessary, did you?

The trouble is, all the reorganizing and clearing I've been doing means that the surface where I eventually discovered the only place in my house that my swift and ball winder will work cooperatively is totally clogged with stuff I didn't have anyplace else to put.

But then I noticed that the table on which I was photographing the skeins, usually covered in clutter, was oddly tidy and - eureka! - has a top just slim enough to be grabbable by the ball winder.  I think it did damage the underside of the wood a bit, and since the table was built by disabled WWI veterans and given me via a grandmother, I don't want to risk it again, but I did get all that yarn prepped with a minimum of fuss.

Then I got out any book I thought would help me whip up a pattern - more on that another day - and swatched with all possible haste.  (and for once I was glad to see superwash yarn stretching out all over the place when blocked, because I don't want to be knitting this thing forever.)

Here is how far I got before noticing I had not been careful enough about not twisting the stitches before I began to work in the round:

This is not an actual picture of that, because I was in a car at the time, two scraps of paper with scrawled instructions and measurements sitting on my knee, nostrils flaring in a silent scream, when I discovered the fact.

No, that picture is of how far I got after ripping it all out and casting on all over again, and before I noticed I had dropped a stitch three rows back.  Yes, the pattern does include knit and purl stitches in elaborate sequence such that all the surrounding stitches would be affected.

(crisis averted: though the stitch had dropped, it turned out simply to have run down, so the stitches weren't thrown.  but if they had been, I would have faked that one stitch on every subsequent round because I do not have the moral fiber or emotional stamina to cast on all those stitches again and reknit that far, all the time in sock yarn, no matter how nice and squishy it is.  and it is.)

Meanwhile, I have been plugging away on other things, and perhaps I will tell you something about them tomorrow.  Or perhaps I will be still too obsessed with the sock sweater.  I know my weaknesses, after all...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Eye Candy

After a rushy aroundy 3-day weekend (not the fun holidaying kind either) I seem to be having a very hoppy splotty morning wherein talking about pretty yarny pictures is The Way To Go.  I mean if you're here, you like yarn too, right?


My Indigo Moon yarns arrived last Thursday, unaware that they were about to go either into service as a Fair Isle pullover or back into a storage type thingy.

We have dark chocolatey brown,

(four browns really, but these three were the most get-alongy)

and pumpkin

and two reds and a coral which is called something else I forget right now,

a fact that may be irrelevant since there seem to be closely related parts to these colours that will make it inadvisable to place them together in the same rows or even in side-by-each ones.

If you read about this particular yarn on Ravelry you will find that it is unusually well-reviewed. I mean, somebody usually finds something not to like about every yarn.  Not this one apparently.  The only beefs were mentioned with complete acceptance, like for example that - being hand-dyed - each skein will vary from its companions and need to be integrated well if a larger project such as a giant-sized Fair Isle sweater is planned, for example by me.


If the entire expanse of such a garment will be patterned, that doesn't matter so much, but I'm going to have vast expanses of Just Brown and therefore it will matter a lot that one of the skeins is the deepest imaginable brown and another is almost as brown and the two remaining have quite a lot of hot chocolatey froth such as you might find on the top of mug.

Here is my lazy solution:

Deep brown for most of the bottom of the body, eventually merging row by row with less-deep brown, the frothy guys for the sleeves (potentially merged so that one half of one is used for the lower edge of each sleeve and then merged with one half of the other for the upper part of the sleeve), and a total hodgepodge of whatever is left for the yoke.

And with that possibly blindly optimistic idea in my head: I'm back to the hoppy splotty, nicely refreshed.  Hope you have a good day too!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Fitting vs knitting

Okay: time to talk Mariner Sweater.  I have dutifully knit a good deal of the smaller size than I started off with originally.

Not more than I did the original size, but definitely more than I kept of the original size after frogging away some bad-looking stitches.  Clue one that I am overthinking this sweater, I know.

I have spent a lot of time with a tape measuring me and measuring these pieces, without a tape holding up the pieces to me or to each other, and without either tape or pieces but instead eating chocolate while pondering

(irony alert, since not eating chocolate would make the smaller size the obvious choice in practically no time, unless you find time without chocolate to be time that moves slower than a rock over a horizontal surface with nobody around to push it)

and here is what I have decided:

I need to go with the original size.


Okay, maybe I'm not so much overthinking as prolonging the knitting process because I loooooove the accent stitch on this sweater.  It's formed by such a fluid motion and the resulting fabric is just delicious to me.  Look, it's like a waving sea:

and it feels fabulous to touch.  I can't seem to get enough.  Which is good since the larger size has a larger expanse of it.

Because it's 9 degrees below freezing this morning and none of the snow that fell the other day is even thinking of melting, I still have time to wear this sweater before October if I just get moving already.  Probably the other in-progress socks would look as awesome with it as the first pair, should all three projects be complete before we get little birds in their nests agreeing about things:

You might have to use your imagination here but I promise, there really is some toffee in there with the yellows and pinks and purples.  Also a lot of desperate optimism in me.

Anyway even I didn't have those incentives to speed up the process, I still have to get going and finish the Mariner.

'cause guess what Fair Isle goodness arrived on my porch yesterday?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cooking with yarn

My so-called emergency knitting is now well past the point where it can be taken anywhere easily: this close to the cuff, for which I have to cart around a contrast yarn, both socks need too much trying on and measuring.

Instead I'm keeping them on the kitchen counter so I can knit while waiting for water to boil.

Do you knit while you're cooking?  It's possibly not a good idea.  I've burned more grilled cheese sandwiches than I can count either by wandering off to to the computer to look up some little detail or by forgetting how many rounds I've done since the last check of the pan.

Last weekend I made pancakes, which is definitely not a good candidate for this kind of multitasking.  Not only is it even easier to burn a pancake than a grilled cheese sandwich, you've got all that batter in a big messy mixing bowl just sitting on the counter waiting for the ball of yarn to leap out of its own bowl (a frequent consequence of my habitual yanking of a length of yarn to ensure relaxed tension) and into it.

After a couple of narrow escapes, I decided that I should at least move the yarn bowl to an adjacent counter.

These socks are perfect for kitchen knitting otherwise, though.  The heavier-weight yarn is easy to work with under distraction-laden conditions, I don't have to look at straight stocking stitch but can keep my eye on the stove, and the limited number of stitches per needle give me lots of good stopping points when something needs flipping.

And then of course there are the comfy moments in an armchair when you have to wait 10 minutes for the timer to go before you do the next part of the meal.

I will be sad to see these go now that they are nearly done, but I would be gladder if they were done now so I could wear them, oh, I don't know, tomorrow?  While it is still freezing out.  Seriously, the late snowstorm we had yesterday has brought the temperatures right back down to frigid.  It is downright weird to be shoveling out a fall at 7:45 pm and still have close to broad daylight, which makes me think we don't usually have a big snow after the spring episode of Daylight Saving Time.  And when I say 'usually', I mean 'ever'.

They're pretty determined to be fraternal socks aren't they.  Perfect consistency, in which the perfectionist and symmetrical-focused me will have to take comfort.  I'm sorry I can't photograph the soft though.  They are 100% squish.

Yep, I should really get these finished up and on my feet, don't you think?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

In transit

I did some bus and subway knitting yesterday - but only some, because my fingers are still so sore and slow from all the packing, and then waiting outside the mall for it to open I got silly and took my gloves off to knit in the cold.  I shouldn't do this because I end up with a much tighter tension and then it takes ages for my hands to warm up enough to knit again indoors, but I was so anxious to believe it is spring! and then this morning I looked out the window and:


Plus a grey sky.

Winter coat it is, then.

In my travels through the mall I was struck by how much our economy depends on the transfer of goods into our homes - no wonder my basement is so clogged!  I felt rather above it all, even though bright colourful spring clothes are in the windows and I well remember the excitement of bringing home a few fresh things to try out with everything I had already.  Dressing to suit myself rather than the new trends has worked well enough for me these last few years to make me almost impervious to the lure of the new.  Go me! I thought.

Then later Trish, my local enabler, sent me a note calling to my attention a sale on Indigo Moon fingering weight.  Like I need more sock yarn, ha!  But of course I went over to Dodge Creations anyway - I knew already it's a lovely shop - and



the four colours remaining were brown, red, orange, and a sort of coral.  I instantly saw in my mind a Fair Isle sweater, the like of which I have not been able to afford the yarn for.

I did think about it for maybe 15 minutes, while I hunted around in Kathi's Fair Isle book for how much yarn one might reasonably need for a sock weight sweater.  But after that, I gave in.

And now it's on its way here so... I guess I'd better get busy on the Mariner, right?  and get rid of a little extra from the basement in between times.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Socks to that

The only thing crazier than the size of my sock yarn stash or the number of socks I've been knitting lately is the fact that as of last night, I had no handknit socks to wear today.

Yes.  I looked in the sock cubby around 8 and it was empty, and then I looked in the bowl of socks to be washed (in which I usually wash said socks, since I never accumulate more than four pairs before I start panicking about the sock cubby being empty) and there were

Ten Pairs.

I had to do the bowl-wash in three installments because the washer was otherwise occupied.

So now I know: ten pairs of socks seems like a lot, but it's not, especially when three are too warm for anything but supercold winter days and one of the remaining seven are summertime ankle socks (worn in desperation a few days ago owing to the dwindlingness of sock cubby contents.)  I also know that time-sucking decluttering has impacts far beyond bruised finger muscles and aching legs and feet.  I mean, who runs out of time and energy to drop socks into a bowl of Soak-infused water?

All of which makes me feel annoyed with myself for having fingers too sore from packing and lifting to work on the current lightweight socks:

Though I did get them well onto the ankle last week.

I really like how the lace pattern is disrupting the line of the stripes.

My fingers are still sore today but I'm bringing one of these socks along with me anyway for long public transit rides.  No waiting for International Knit In Public Day for this girl.

But first... gotta go check the laundry line and see if I have a pair of socks dry enough to put on yet.  My toes are cold!

Monday, March 21, 2011


Ever since my mum started to downsize and asked me to help get her stuff organized, the back of my mind has been full of its own Get Rid Of Stuff! ideas that keep crowding to the front and making it hard to just sit down or take a nap.  You just don't appreciate the weight of even the most adorable collectibles, for example, until you have to find space for them.

Even my knitting has taken a hit - less time of course, but also, I'm increasingly preoccupied with using up my stash.

This last weekend things got particularly hairy.  Around 3pm Saturday I shut off the logical part of my brain and started to overhaul my storage room. I didn't stop until about 9pm Sunday though really I should have kept going until some time next week. 

The plan was to ditch 50% of the shelving and 60% of the stuff I've kept in the space.  I got the shelving dismantled and out the door and sent a lot of things away as Goodwill donations, but if I took a photo of the room right now you would think it was the 'before' shot.  I will have to make a lot more tough calls.

Two sets of things I won't be saying Buh-bye! to are purple yarns passed on to me by a friend, though it would aid greatly in the effort to keep them if I could think of what to do with them.

First up: four skeins of Classic Elite Evergreen, a blend of different fibers recycled from the garment industry (including cashmere.)

I love this colour and I know it will be super soft when knit up.  And there are 900 yards here.  Maybe I should use it as the base for a swingy vest with a Fair Isle yoke?

Next: some farmy yarn that was originally I think 9 skeins each around 90g.  It had been a snack for some moths earlier in its life as yarn, which I knew about before I rewashed the skeins and and hung them up to dry in the basement and left them there for 4 months, ahem.  Getting them wound into cakes a month or so ago - I was avoiding it because I knew a lot of the yarn was broken - was an exercise in trying to resist the bigger reorganization effort.  (And we all know how well that went.)

Some of the broken strands are long enough to do a round in Fair Isle, probably.  So I think I might do a big sweater with a colourful yoke and sleeves.  Or maybe knit squares to sew into a blanket later? 

I'm so bad with decisions.  But I can tell you - after two days of moving and lifting and shifting and bag-filling and despairing only to be renewed by even more exhausting hope - it is a nice problem to sit down and have.

Friday, March 18, 2011


My travels yesterday took me within range of Stitch, my verymostfavourite yarn store (and not least because Jocelyn also sells some of the most beautiful coordinating fabrics I've ever seen.) 

It's hard to describe what makes this place so wonderful but I think it's really just Jocelyn herself and her fantastic visual sense - just the right combination of open space and antiques-as-storage, just the right number of samples, placed decoratively near the yarn that went into them, just the right number of comfy seating spaces.  And old baking tins with pools of buttons in them.  I love buttons.  I love how peaceful and inspired I feel in that store.

I need absolutely nothing but wasn't going to leave without some special thing - it's not like I get in there more than three times a year after all - and when I saw some pretty handwarmers and Jocelyn told me the pattern was from Churchmouse Yarns aka the good people who brought me Turkish Bed Socks, I had to have the yarn that made them (and the pattern, of course.)

I also bought her last copy of January/February 2011's Piecework. 

Golly I love this magazine.

Shall we take a closer look at the Manos Silk Blend?

Yum.  Two skeins makes three pairs of fingerless mitts, so I should have some nice easy mindless knitting for a good long while now.  Which is not to say I didn't finally get all four current socks-in-progress past their heels, but that's another story for after the weekend.

Have a great one yourself!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Helena has not only dyed my custom mawata(s?) but sent me images (these are them, taken by her) and I am doing happy skippy dances over the lusciousness.

I have no idea whether I can pull off a viable garment with this, but I sure am going to have fun trying.

Meanwhile: travel knitting.  I am out and about a lot the next few days and needed a project that wasn't at a difficult stage. Since I couldn't resist knitting the socks that were supposed to be in reserve for this purpose, thereby bringing them to a difficult stage, I worked frantically to get the more complicated socks past their heels.

This is the first one, finished before supper last night; the second arrived at its destination a few hours later.

I'm trying not to bet I'll be wearing these on Monday, but you know - I bet I'll be wearing them on Monday.

P.S. - in spite of the frantic, I made an executive decision that it is spring and changed the banner from snow to flowers.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sizing the sweater

In the midst of all the recent sock activity you might think I'd forgotten my Mariner sweater, but no! I've been trying to get the sizing right.

To recap:

My first attempt was going to be about 4" wider than me, which is sort of okay I guess, but not when you are tight on yarn to begin with.  Also I didn't really want a sloppy sweater.

So I cast on for a second Mariner - 1 needle size up*, 1 pattern size down - and had a look:

* Can I digress for a moment to discuss needle storage?  Because I have a great system and I still can't find needles half the time.  My double points are filed in a boxy thing on my desk, my circulars are filed in a special circular needle storage container, and my straights are filed in pouches in a deep dark corner of the basement because I almost never use them. Yet it took me about an hour to find the needles I wanted for this project - because while the plastic pocket I bought them in was filed, the needles themselves were not in them (because, as it turned out, I had come across the needle pouch at some point and filed it, then finished with the needles at some different point and filed them without ever putting them together).  Clearly I am a flawed person with too many knitting projects in progress.  Must address this, since there is no time-saving advantage to a good storage system if you just pile things on top of it.  You need time on your side if you're going to be knitting two sizes of every big project just because your decision-making skills are poor.

The second Mariner is definitely smaller, but maybe too much smaller? I wasn't sure.  I had to keep going, which is sort of annoying because time knitting Mariner 2 is time stolen from Mariner 1 if I have to go back to it.  But sort of hopeful because I made so many sloppy stitches in Mariner 1 it would be fabulous to have a fresh slate now that I know how to avoid sloppy stitches.

Yeah, this is going to give me a sweater that's maybe 2.25" bigger than me all around.  I can live with that.  And I can definitely live with fewer stitches on the needle and fewer rows to an inch and a way better shot at not running out of yarn.  Kinda makes up for that whole flawed-person thing, you know?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How far

The foot on the left is how far I can go in a day in a car with bonus sofa time later; the foot on the right is how far I can go in a day of bus commutes.

(three points if you recognize the lace pattern I plugged into my basic sock recipe.)

This is how far I can go by ignoring the 'save it for emergencies' part of mindless sock knitting when the wind is not blowing and the sun is shining on the porch steps, making a warm patch that belies the 1-degree-above-freezing temperature.

(I don't know if I can relax enough as a person to live with the fraternal aspect of these socks.  I'm hoping to be able to restrain myself from ripping out one of them and rewinding the ball.)

Two thoughts have occurred to me:

If I can knit outside, spring must not be far off.

If I can have two pairs of toe-up socks all the way to the instep within 8 days of casting on the first pair in spite of going on with tons of cleaning, I must be getting faster at socks.  Or more negligent about my other knitting.  (which is, unfortunately, true.)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Some reasons I'm glad I know Helena

Helena gave me what I immediately recognized as good advice last Thursday:

Cast on two toes with some of my remaining Twisted Fiber Art yarn. 

Twisted is wonderful for socks specifically (this is not something I know from experience, but from looking at other people's results, including Helena's stunning ones) and for comfort knitting generally.  Plus, as she quite rightly pointed out, you never know when you might need emergency socks to knit mindlessly, and you can guarantee your other socks will be at some high-maintenance point when disaster strikes.

I had some heavier-weight Duchess already wound into cakes for two socks so on Friday I cast on two toes.

And would you believe, the very next day I had need of mindless emergency knitting!  Bonus: knitting the Duchess was like softly stroking the nose of a horse that doesn't scare the pants off you.  (I have not actually found a horse that does not scare the pants off me in close proximity, but I imagine this dream horse's nose will feel that soft.)

When I got home though, I noticed something.  Are you noticing?  I realize it's hard with no hand or anything to help with scale.

They were about 10 stitches too wide for me (aka Ady's size again.)  I haven't knit socks with yarn this weight before so I didn't know how many I'd need.  GAH.

So I ripped back my toes and set them up again.  And then I went on a bit to be sure they were right this time (they are.)  And then I went on a bit more because it was so exciting to watch the colours unfold.

Knitting them up to the gusset is probably defeating the purpose of having socks not at a critical point should some emergency arise, but I no longer care.  I also am not mad at Helena for starting me down the clearly addictive and all-consuming world of Twisted plus Sock.

And here is mostly why:  do you read Yarn Harlot?  And if so, do the images from the post on mittens knit from unspun silk haunt your every moment?  They do mine, not least because she and I live in the same town and if they're warm enough for her they might be... well, I can't quite believe they'd be warm enough for me because it gets pretty cold here and I've never found a handknit pair that cut it.  Even two pairs of lined gloves inside each other don't cut it.  But I'm open to trying, if I can get my hands on some unpun silk in hankie form.

And Helena is going to custom-dye some in her shop starting today.  I've ordered multicolour, but I'm still not 100% sure I won't chicken out with a nice mindless scarf.

Friday, March 11, 2011

New books

As if by magic (magic not at all related to flipping through Interweave Knits' Spring 2011 issue with friends and saying 'ooo, I like the look of this book, or that one') I received two knitting books for my birthday last week.

I mentioned A Knitting Wrapsody a while back so I won't talk more about it here except to say that on further inspection I have switched my allegiance to the project on the cover.  I suspect it would be decidedly unflattering on me, but fun to knit, and a very good gift for somebody else at some point.

The second book is by Debbie Bliss, about her design process. 

I wouldn't go so far as to call it a design instruction book, though there is a lot of hard material about what sleeve shapes to choose when and why and so on, plus some patterns that illustrate the point.  It's mostly just a very interesting read about how she approaches a new idea and how she feels about her work.  Love it. 

Also love: a bobbly cabled super shapely pullover whose pattern is included.  This is not a project I have time for in my current life, but I love looking at it and remembering the earlier life in which I was in shape for this style and also had scads of time to knit whatever I liked.

(We'll just leave aside the fact that I somehow manage to knit even more now than I did then, since it involves ignoring things like cleaning.  Which, now that I think of it, was also true at that time.)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Speed socks

Here is how far I can get in a day on a sock if I don't stop to clean or to knit three other things too:

I was so desperate to get past the mohair socks that took forever (though on further inspection, 'forever' appears to be about 1 month) I cast on another pair while they were still drying from their wet block.  The yarn is another club colourway from Knitterly Things, the skein I'd gotten into two perfectly-matched cakes about two months ago. This is another way of saying that I grabbed the only yarn that was ready to go, I was that anxious to have new travel knitting. 

At first I wasn't sure about the colours, which I find gorgeous but not really my first choice for springtime socks. Then I noticed the caramel colour kinda matches another caramel colour I've been knitting with.

Yep, the Mariner.  Which I'm still fussing over the size of, in case you were wondering.  Still, when I do get it done - I'll be so matchy!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cleaning vs. knitting

There is a terrible thing happening in my house and that is: cleaning.

Normally I am quite relaxed about cleaning.  I care about the surfaces on which I prepare food, and I like my clothes to be fresh, and if I find myself walking over crumbs on the floor I will address them, but I don't typically worry about vacuuming until I notice dust bunnies commuting en masse to their manufacturing job across the room.

There are certain things though that do prompt me to clean in a big way, the kind of way that leads to redecoration that includes painting etc.  It's not that bad yet.  But there is just enough going on of the various factors that keep me from being able to sit down on the sofa with fiber to - well, keep me from sitting down on the sofa with fiber.  And the worst?  I'm kind of getting addicting to shiny bathroom tiles. 

Oh how I miss the motivation of Christmas Knitting, when I could ignore everything and let the mail pile up because otherwise X would not have his/her present.  Also, the TV programming was awesome.  Lately, not so much. 

Instead I have been going through things that cn't be ignored any longer, and the more you do that, the more you notice other things that can't be ignored any longer, and it goes on like the reflections in two mirrors that don't quite face each other.

And all the while you're finding things to put away that remind you what you'd rather be doing with this particular leisure time.

Looking through old knitting articles that might be timely for current projects

Playing with the vintage tool collection

Swatching out the idea that's been waiting more than a week now for your attention

And still, you're cleaning.

It can't last forever, can it?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Perfection and the quest for same

Last night I watched another episode of Time Team, a show in which an archeological team takes just three days to dig up a site and tell viewers all about its history.  I love this show not least because I get to knit while watching it - there is something peculiar going on that is sucking the knitting time out of my day, but I'll explore that another time.

It was especially great to sit down with my heating pad, no less, because I have yet another cold that is making my head all wonky and my eyelids half-mast.  Also: my hair keeps going flat.  Is this a rule with colds, that one must not only have a longer face from mouth-breathing and gloomy eyes from sinus saturation but also flat hair? As a kind of Ugly Code for people to stay back and not catch it, perhaps?

So yes. Knitting. I spent what little time I did knit working on a super easy project that goes on mindlessly for ages and then does something fussy for no time at all before going back to mindlessness which meant I could work on it while doing boring things like making supper and calling in to cancel a subscription you can't just stop paying the renewal fee for and have the publisher take the hint.  Note to self: never again subscribe to such a publication, even if the only alternative is bringing a copy purchased at the grocery store to your giftee every month for a year.

When I sat down with Time Team I was about half done the main part of the project, and by the time I got up again I was about three-quarters done. Bonus: one of the things the Time Team found, amidst the usual broken shards of stone that they can tell instantly are part of a pot imported from the Mediterranean in the 5th century A.D. - perfect sight and memory those people must have - was a perfectly round stone with  perfectly round hole drilled through it.

I didn't know what it was but I loved how untouched it was by all the things that had touched and crushed everything else.  I bet you know what it was, right?  Yep, a whorl from a drop spindle.  Yes for spinners and other yarny types!  We existed in history too!

About an hour after that I discovered that I had made a glaring mistake on a fussy bit, during my attempt to cancel the subscription.  Another note to self: do not attempt to knit while talking to a subscription service.  I had to rip out the entire day's work.

This morning though a more terrible thought struck me:

Why on earth did that whorl end up on the floor of that house for all those centuries?   I mean, who'd deliberately leave such an awesome drop spindle behind from a community that went on spinning for many a generation after the one who used it first?

I bet whoever dropped it was seriously ticked off about it when she noticed later.  And that makes me feel a lot better about only having to reknit for a couple of hours today.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Birthday socks

My present to myself this year was finishing the neverending mohair boot socks.

I feel like they have been on my needles forever, which would be true if they hadn't been off them briefly twice each, being frogged.

The stitches aren't as beautiful and perfectly formed as when I knit them the first time, but they did settle a bit more after I finished taking pictures and wet blocked them.

Also, I think a little ribbing would have produced a more form-fitting shape.  But they are boot socks, and in that respect they are perfect. Warm, soft, and most importantly finished.

Before lunch, no less (owing to my having it fashionably late) and before the arrival of birthday flowers.   Don't you love how matchy they are?

Friday, March 4, 2011

A lot more like it

I've been out a lot this week and plugging away on the mohair blend socks I keep persisting with, so as to have warm feet on these cold days we're still having:

It was interesting on the bus when I got stuck doing the first heel flap - I suspect socks are only really travel knitting for me when they are at the foot or the leg, and then only if the leg isn't patterned - but I made it through and got both socks past their heels after all those trials and tribulations with the fitting.

This is the sock I took out with me yesterday:

This is the one I worked on while planted on the sofa in the evenings:

I guess I was out even more than I thought.  H'mmm.

Anyway it looks like I'm almost finished with these guys and their dear rounded little toes, which also means I am almost finished with my Stoddart yarn.  I'll have to get more at the next knitting fair, unless I break down and order some online, which I might do because I looooove this yarn, and it's not as though I don't have an excuse to treat myself today.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Size (and other) matters

Ever since I made those socks for Ady, I've wanted to knit something for Marty too.  She's glam and gorgeous and travels a ton all over the world for her job, so obviously a scarf or shawl out of some super luxurious fiber is the way to go: it's a versatile accessory right down to wrapping itself up for pillow duty on a plane.

I was leaning toward Citron with a beaded castoff, but the closest yarn I have to Right For Marty is some beautiful seasilky self-striping club yarn from Biscotte, and I just thought a Clapotis might work better for that.

Or not. I have got past the point of having to read every line of the instructions before taking a stitch, and I can see how this could comfortably become travel knitting, but I just don't like the way the stripes are working out here.  Also, while the needle size (small) is right for this yarn, the length of the circular I happen to have is just way too long to make knitting less than 25" of fabric on it enjoyable. I don't even think these colours are right for  Marty any more... unless maybe they were broken up over a gorgeous lace.

(looks fab with denim though, doesn't it?)

Later I was reading through an article on the features of different fibers (somehow I keep needing to be reminded of those) and read how great this particular one - leaving out the silk part, which to be fair is less than half of the whole - is for keeping cool.  I'm thinking now a pretty shell for summer is the way to go with this yarn, but probably for me rather than Marty since I'm sure to get her size wrong.

Speaking of wrong sizes, I sat down last night with my Mariner sweater and realized I'd done some of the short rows too soon.  I have amended my marking system to avoid this problem in future, and I took advantage of the excuse to rip back to go past the places where I accidentally elongated several stitches in a row and left some nasty gaps.

After doing all that ripping and repositioning on the needles and fussing over another short row (twice, because I got the half-linen stitch wrong) I looked at what I had left and thought:

It's awful big.

So I measured and yep, it's going to be about five inches wider than I am.  Yay for ill-advised yarn substitution.

There are a few options here.  I can go on and have an oversized sweater, but if I do that I will probably run out of yarn - I was going to be a bit tight anyway and I can't get more as this stuff is loooong out of production. I can just make the next size down, but I'm pretty sure that will come out about an inch narrower than me.  Or I can make the next size down with needles a size or two bigger.  I mean, it's not like I'm not getting fabric reminiscent of a board in the half-linen stitch panel with these ones.

Just now it occurred to me I can have the best of a couple of these worlds, by casting on with bigger needles for the smaller size and knitting up a whole new ball that way before deciding whether or not to frog the current effort.

But first I think I need some quality time with a nice simple pair of socks, don't you?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New things

I got so distracted yesterday by the sewing of tote bags, there was essentially no active knitting in my house.  At all.  I was thinking about knitting though, specifically this: how is it that everything I want to make takes so long? I need to find a way to simplify things so I can go faster and not ponder as I go and then rip out whole seams, or in the case of knitting, sections.

The tote bags were meant for food shopping (deep enough for a baguette) but with spring coming I could definitely use a few more differently outfitted ones for knitting on the go.  You know, with an outside pocket to hold the yarn you're knitting from that's just big enough to jam a sock or hat into when you have to get off the bus or something?  I would love to have a ton of bags like that made up and set aside to go with different outfits or be ready to give as gifts, but I'm not prepared to give up sock time for it.

Finally it struck me that there is a simpler way to do what I do, which starts with making each tote from a front and a back and not one big piece I fold over. The new idea would eliminate all the excuses I use to keep from coming up with set math for the size of each piece, and allow me to

(are you ready for this?)

cut pieces in advance.

Like, just get out a ton of fabric one day and do nothing but cut, and get the machine out a different day and just embellish and maybe even assemble individual pieces including three different types of strap length (hand, shoulder, messenger), and then another day to finish. 

Of course that means I want today to be that day but No.  I want to knit. Also, I have to edit a pattern to conform to somebody else's style sheet and - gasp - write some marketing copy for a client.

You know what's sad?  Writing marketing copy for a client is the very last creative outlet I will approach with enthusiasm, and not only does it pay the best, it goes the fastest. Like, really really fast.  I should love it more than anything else.

Even though I don't, today it's good that marketing copy goes fast because yesterday was the first of the month and that means:

New yarn from the Biscotte Club!

I love these stripes.  And I am wondering what I have in the stash that will go with them, because the Pinkerton Shawl I also like is made from sock yarn and there is a suggestion to knit its two segments in two contrasting or striped yarns.  Or maybe I could just do it all in one striped yarn since the multidirectional aspect would set the stripes against each other.  Must check yardage. 

In the time I win back from being so good at writing.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Join me on the porch

Yesterday the afternoon was sunny and above freezing so I took Hugs outside to enjoy my new magazine:

Yep, no matter what's on the stands, I always seem to buy Interweave Knits, this time the delicious Spring 2011 issue.

Last weekend I nipped into a yarn store looking for something it didn't have, and time constraints meant I couldn't ask about what it did have, namely a cool shawl with undulating short rows that pushed its self-striping yarn all out of position in an alluring way. It was not Susan Dittrich's Pinkerton Shawl, which I found while hunting on Ravelry after the fact:

but I love the shawl so much, it is why I got the magazine. 

Now that I have it, I think I also quite like rather an unbelievable amount Maria Leigh's Hexagon Petal Tee, which I would make longer and wear as a vest:

Bonus: I've never knit anything modular and it might be nice to learn how to do that.

It would also be good to learn how to do shaped intarsia, since I am so terrible at the regular kind even.  Thank you Daniela Nii for figuring out a way to make me want to try it, aka Hourglass Pillows.

There are some other cool shaping things I would like to have time to try.

I think I could pull off Amy Christoffers' pretty V-Yoke Cardigan, over there on the right, in both the knitting and wearing departments.

And how cute is AnneLena Mattison's Ruched Yoke Tee on the left, not to mention Shelley Gerber's Gossamer Smocked Tunic, in blue on the right?

I would wear either of those as a vest too.  In fact I shoulda had a vest on after five minutes of going through this magazine because you know what?  Above freezing does not equal warm. 

Soon though. By the time I finish one of these projects, it'll totally be spring.