Saturday, June 29, 2013

Start those wheels turning!

Or spindles, or whatever - the Tour de France starts today and with it, the Tour de Fleece!

The motivation/excuse inspired by the knowledge that a ton of other spinners are making yarn creation a priority right now is my favourite thing about this time of year.

Normally my internal conversations go something like this:

"I'd like to be spinning right now," and then, "but surely you will burn what's in that pan and/or overflow the sink of dishes?", and then "Oh, too true, I will be sensible and proceed with chores la la la."

During Tour de France, it's:

"Outta my way!"

Here's what I spun today:

What I spin tomorrow will be more of the same, emphasis on more.  YAY.

Hope you guys have a great weekend, whether you're spinning or dishwashing or curled up with a good book (and some knitting?)

Friday, June 28, 2013

The sock that knit itself

There is no other explanation for this sock being finished except that it knit itself,

because of course I have been very very busy doing other things.  And now if you'll excuse me I have six hours of sewing-related activity to squeeze into two, ahem.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

It's evidently good to be a hydrangea

I swear this thing was in a tiny pot before I put it into the ground:

Hydrangea go splody
And also, that I did that just a couple of years ago.  But I also hopelessly miscalculated the time consumption of my current To Do list, so....

(I am crushing through the To Do list really, it just doesn't look like it yet.  send good thoughts if you have them to spare, 'kay?)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Nothing to see here

Okay, I lie: here is one thing to see here.

And it's rocks (these ones are from Ottawa, probably around the Parliament buildings, I don't even remember now).  For those of you who don't speak Mary, that's a reference to the Charlie Brown Halloween special in which all the other kids get candy and Charlie Brown gets rocks.

Yesterday a number of things suggested to me that my life is hurtling past its recommended top speed:

I fell into hysterical laughter describing to Trish a circa 1960s cookie recipe I loved as a kid (marshmallow + chocolate = yum) because it suddenly stuck me that, until you slice them, they look like poo.

I bought a blouse while frantically cramming errands into the 90 minutes I had before my next hard stop in the schedule, because I had been too busy washing cottage laundry to come up with a clean shirt to wear downtown.

I had Fudgsicles for supper to save time and dishes, the better to source six hours' sleep.  (okay, I would probably have done that anyway because hello, Fudgsicles in the house? they must be eaten immediately, it's a rule.)

I put Daft Punk's Around the World onto perpetual replay so I could remain upright long enough to prep for today.

(Lookit! another thing to see here.)

(FYI, it didn't work: I just danced and got no prep done at all.  my fitbit pedometer loved me though.)

What I did not do yesterday was knit enough of anything to justify taking out the camera.  Or the day before either.  If I'd worked on the same thing both days maybe, but I didn't, so... I got nuttin'.

If I don't catch up with all my outstanding GAH by the end of Friday I am totally completely utterly doomed, so I'm absolving myself from proper Hugs posts for the rest of the week.  Instead I will take a page from my Italian diary and post random pictures as and when I can grab a second to do that.  In good news (for me), life should return to normal on Sunday afternoon at around 3:34pm.  Yay!

Until then, have yourself some perfectly marvelous times and keep something inspiring in your thoughts.  I pick the rainbow-themed rag rug Trish is crocheting, which is SO GORGEOUS.  That Trish, she is a genius.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Speedy stripes or, knitting while sitting

Lately - could it be June? - I've been attending a lot of functions where one puts on one's best and sits among an audience for long periods, applauding at intervals that may or may not be regular.  Really, you'd be surprised how many different forms this kind of event can take.

Naturally I bring knitting, but I never want anyone to get the wrong idea and think I don't care about the people we're there to celebrate.  I mean, one time last fall I was at a weekend choral performance and the guy next to me worked away with his newspaper, a crunchy apple, his laptop, and a wireless mouse, then bailed for a huge chunk of the performance before coming back to see his child sing.  I don't want to be that guy. 

Nope, I bring knitting that is so easy I can keep my hands down behind the seat ahead of me and my eyes firmly on the stage.  Knitting on needles that hang onto the stitches so well you can practically fling them down when it's time to clap without missing a beat.

And that is how I can explain this massive progress on my Rainbow Socks:

That's sock #1, into the heel, which will apparently have a lot of yellow in it.

And here is sock #2, just up to its heel:

Can you believe the luck of both heels starting just when the yarn was switching over to the yellow stripe?

Honestly, it is so easy to please a knitter.

Actually it is even better than that: I knit all the last stripes of sock #2 in the dark on the highway coming back from the cottage.  I have more and more respect for the Pony Pearl double points - they are just so fluid, you can be completely mechanical and not look at your work at all.

Some duty-related knitting also happened on this weekend's run up to the cottage:

I haven't touched my stripey legwarmers since last month's trip, and I was so sad when I saw how few inches I'd knit then.  The distance had kind of expanded in my mind.  Even now they look kind of short to me... but it's progress all the same, and I finished the top ribbing on the second legwarmer, so there's less boringness to do later.

Hard to believe that the summer cottaging season is now upon me, with the retreat of the majority of the biting insects (into the bellies of lovely dragonflies.)  And also the spinning fest that accompanies the Tour de France. 

It is a great comfort to think that while time keeps on moving and often goes a good deal faster than we'd like, it does keep bringing happy experiences back into our lives.

Hope you have a lot of happy experiences today and I will see you tomorrow!

Monday, June 24, 2013

(Hand)spinning to good health

How you can tell I don't live in an obsessive crafting community: when I tell people I'm going to spin, they assume I'm on my way to a fitness class. 

This business of crafty vs. athletic has been troubling me over the last few years, since I took up knitting again after about two decades of focusing purely on writing, and consequently began putting on weight.  True, there have been other factors (read: STRESS with a capital WOW) but it is also true that when I was writing, I felt more active.

Why?  Because I was more active.  I don't know about other writers, but omigosh, I hit writer's block every few sentences and have to get up from my chair to make tea, learn how to use power tools effectively, or dust a wall.  Then I go back and write a few more sentences and the cycle repeats.  When I am knitting, my hands never stop moving but the rest of me most certainly does.  And now that I am spinning too?

Can this innocent ball of yum be the enemy in disguise?
Yikes.  That is an addictive occupation.  I will put off everything - in the case of what's in that picture, much-needed sleep - to spin just one more handful of fiber.

The other day I finally got to the May 20th issue of The New Yorker (2013, if you're reading this after the fact) in which Susan Orlean - one of my writing heroes - shared a piece on walking desks.  This article put my brain on high alert about exercise.

Points taken - with the caveat that these are my takeaways, and may not be remotely accurate:

1/ It's really important not to sit more than six hours a day, because doing that tells your body you don't need it any more and it starts the (thankfully time-consuming) process of closing up shop

2/ You can be physically fit and still have the closing-up-shop problem happening

3/ Our bodies are made to move

4/ Hello, get out of that chair

5/ GAH


My other takeaways were,

1/ Buy a fitbit because they sound cool

2/ Walking desks? Who knew?

Because I love shopping, I did buy a fitbit.  Then I researched walking desks even though my desk space is restricted to a 3.5' x 2.5' space and I'm not kidding, I have to use a bench chair so it tucks right underneath - there is no room for a chair back, even.  A treadmill in front of an elevated desk could not be less of an option for me.  Standing desks: that's another story and would actually increase my desk storage space so I'm open. 


The deal with the fitbit is sort of boring and long but essentially it's a pedometer that tells you not just how many steps you've taken but a lot of other stuff too.  Like, how far you've gone and many calories you've burned and, if you plug in a weight goal, how much more you can eat that day based on how many calories you've burned so far.  And it does it all automatically, with motivating graphics that change as your day unfolds and your step count increases.

I might as well just mention here that when it comes to fitbit's motivational graphics, the day you run errands and get so busy you forget to eat is a much more cheerful day than the day you sit in a car for six hours knitting so you can go set up the cottage for the summer.  Yeesh, priorities.

And... back to my story

As it turns out, it is definitely possible to be crafty and not be sitting.  One can do a lot at a standing desk, and I've revisited the concept of walking around the house while I'm knitting - no problem - which extends to pacing while watching a movie.

But what about handspinning?

Well, thanks to my new friends at Ravelry's Completely Twisted and Arbitrary spinning group, I can tell you that very small electric wheels you can use standing up are things that exist.  For example, one might choose the Hansen miniSpinner, or the Ashford e-spinner.  They're priced in the ballpark of a traditional wheel, but they are compact, and they take up way less space than a treadmill for a walking desk, so: birthday wishlist?

Of course if you have the room, you can even use these things while walking.

(just: wow.  new hero up there.)

And I think that's quite enough about turning creativity into fitness for this week, don't you?  Tomorrow I will tell you about that cottage run and the knitting that resulted from it.  Yay, knitting!

Friday, June 21, 2013

A roomful of knitters (and pretty new yarn!)

At this year's Knitter's Frolic, Trish bought me a raffle ticket and it won.  This resulted in a (brief) period of Moral Dilemma time until I told Trish, who immediately absolved me from guilt, bless her. All that was left was for the two of us to show up at a Downtown Knit Collective meeting to pick it up.  Ha! like that's a hardship - we'd go more, if we had more time.

Here is the raffle prize:

Isn't it gorgeous?  It's a giant skein of Fleece Artist Tosca, mostly wool but with a bit of nylon to bind the boucle.  As I was walking toward the table of raffle loot I saw it and thought Ohhhhh, I hope that's for me.  And now that I have it I hope I am not imagining that I have 9mm knitting needles in my stash because this stuff is mega bulky.

I wonder what I'll make with it?  Whatever it is, I'm committed to meet and greet it before November because there is no excuse for leaving in a skein something that knits up as fast as this will do, when the weather is perfect for it.

Today's story should end there, and it would if I hadn't actually walked into the meeting room.  A very nice woman had two tables of yarn set out just inside the doors, and, oh dear.  Of course I don't need more yarn - who among us needs more yarn? - but this was all very beautiful yarn and I felt I had to look, at least.  And when I looked I saw early labels marked Twisted Fiber Art and the penny dropped.

This was beloved stash yarn.  You know, being destashed, at a massive discount from its original prices, for a move to a smaller home.  And it's not as though the skeins could be tucked into throw cushion covers or into the base of a glass coffee table as Art (now there's a great idea!) because apparently this was just a small fraction of the excess yarn she was compelled to address.

Of course, my heart went out to her, and so did the cash I'd put into my bag for subway token emergencies.  I told her I would take good care of her yarn, and make something with it.

I bought this very old colourway in Duchess, a superwash and squishy DK weight I love to work with:

and this equally old colourway in Arial, a fingering weight I've only ever used for shawls but I'm thinking might make an awesome woven scarf:

After that... and after Trish arrived and I took her over to the table too and then we left empty-handed because she has so much more self-restraint than I do and resisted her nemesis Cashmere which was represented all over the map... it was time to sit and knit and listen.

And here's my favourite part of the whole evening.  Well, not the listening, in spite of that being fantastic and informative and just generally enjoyable - my friend at Sel et Poivre wrote that up better than I could, and I only wish I'd spotted her there because it turns out we were quite near each other - but the looking.

The room was full of knitters, knitting.  In fact only a handful of the group was not working away on something or other.  And all the somethings and others were incredibly beautiful.  It was like browsing through the highest-level project pages at Ravelry, but in person, and it was all around me, plainly visible thanks to stadium seating in the room.  I've been at these meetings before so I know this happens in real life, but omigosh, it really struck me this time how lovely it is to be present with people who do what we do.

It's a good life we have, making things.  I hope you get to enjoy lots of it this weekend - I plan to, thanks to some serious passenger time in a car - and I will see you on Monday!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Knitting with different brands of needles

Today I want to tell you about my four-day-old exciting secret, mostly because I don't have time to take pictures of the amazing yarn I got at last night's Downtown Knit Collective meeting:

Those Universal Socks are (almost) all done!

and yes, I agree, my definition of 'exciting' is pretty sad. 

I noticed last Friday night that the end of Sock #2 was near, so I just kept picking it up whenever I had a minute or two to knit and by Sunday afternoon, I was ready to graft a toe.  Except that I didn't, because Mary translates to Lazy in Knitterese.

I kid.  Actually it was very important that I not take Sock #2 entirely off its needles because I needed to check how the two socks compared, as the first was knit on a set of Signatures, and the second on Knitter's Pride Karbonz.  Very, very different materials, and even different needle lengths, either of which could have spelled doom.

What do you think?

The stripes seem to me to match up perfectly, and the stitches themselves look about the same.

Whew.  It was a risk to switch needles between socks, especially since I was knitting so much faster on the Karbonz owing to their hurting me so much less.  Well, until the allergic reaction to the tips kicked in (but let's not discuss that, because in the first flush of new love I ordered several more sets of them, something I now sort of regret.)

I am ridiculously happy about being done these socks, and possibly not just because I have another four pairs of socks on needles I am now free to push on with.  These are the first new socks I've knit in a very long time on a real 2.25mm needle, and the stitches are just enough denser in that size to make them really comfortable to wear.

In other news, Omigosh, is it Thursday? 

Assuming you don't have pressing concerns like how much lint settled on the nearest lampshade in the last twenty minutes, that means you're probably wondering how I am doing with my goal for the week.  You know, casting on one of the hats that have been tormenting me.

Well, I am pretty sure there is a lot more progress on baby blankets out there than there is on hats in here.  But hello: it's only Thursday, so I still have all of today and tomorrow to get a move on! and the distractions are minor - some major organizational overhaul in the house, and prepping for another run to the cottage to make up beds and fill the pantry, approximately eight metric tonnes of laundry, and of course spinning, and maybe a nap?  Oh yeah, I am totally getting that hat cast on.

(think good thoughts for me please, is what all that translates to.)

Have a wonderful and productive day, my friends - I'll see you tomorrow to tell you all about that delicious yarn, unless something even more fabulous crops up today.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Colourful Hugs

Today is going to be a mishmash, much like my life this week and next which are total crazypantsness.  June: never a dull moment.

First up: peas.  Not only a nutritious treat, but in fresh-shelled form, also an attractive centrepiece.

Next: chocolate.  Specifically, the best chocolate I've ever tasted.

These bars are pretty small, and pretty expensive, and in this humble chocoholic's opinion a perfect gift for the friend who has everything.  I get mine at the local posh grocer, but they are also available from Amazon for about three times as much, or directly from the Amedei Chocolate website for somewhat less than Amazon wants.  My favourite is the white chocolate with pistachio, but that may just be because the cover art is so pretty.

Furthermore: workspace.  I'm sure you read or at least know about Attic24 but ooooomigosh, Lucy posted pictures of her new studio, and I could weep it is so adorable and, for me in my tiny House of Clutter, unattainable.  I comfort myself with the fact that it has no stuffed animals in it - my workspace has to have them, which reminds me I didn't introduce you to Fitzy yet.  He looks a lot like this:

Except a lot more confused and windswept.  I love him.  (He's from Jellycat, whose entire line I covet; you can find this particular owl here.)

And finally: the mahna mahna song.

How long has it been since you've seen that? (hopefully, not more than a couple of weeks.)

I hope the rest of your day is colourful and cheery, and that mine is too!  See you tomorrow, with knitting.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Rainbow socks and other cheerful prospects

Over the weekend I tried to give my attention to some tester socks.

The ones that caught it were the Spring Garden socks on the Pony Pearl double pointed needles.  MAN those needles are addictive to knit with.  They just bounce you along from one stitch to the next.

As for the yarn: these are some of the most relentlessly cheery stripes I've worked with, ever.  It's hard not to feel downright chirpy when you look down at so many brights, and in this size (2.25mm) the Pony Pearls are a retro turquoise, so - yum.  These are a good knit.

Another pair of socks I have not knit up, because I can only keep pace with so many yarn clubs, is still in skein form from Twisted Fiber Art:

This one was called Spring, and I love how similar they are to the Spring Garden colourway - quite apart from enjoying how artists are inspired by the same kinds of things and express those ideas individually, it's neat to see how the overall mood shifts without the blue and purple, while still being matchy.  I mean, if I was smart, I'd probably make a cute hat with the Spring and wear it with the Spring Garden socks.

But I think I'd rather have a whole lotta bright socks with green in them, because flashing springy socks in the fall is going to feel very powerful (Mary said, being relentlessly optimistic about finishing two whole pairs of socks by October, even though there was snow on the ground when the Spring yarn arrived and that was a loooong time ago and it's still not even caked.)

Speaking of spring, I had better spring out the door and get on with the day.  Hope you get lots of what you have to do, done, in time to do some of what you want to do, especially if it's crafty.  See you tomorrow!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Seeing the unseeable stripes

Didn't we just have this contrast problem, when I was knitting the Sunshine and Bubblegum socks?

I swear this sock has stripes - there are a ton of yarn tails hanging out of the top to prove it - but they're almost impossible to see.  It's like a sepia photograph where the edges are starting to blur with time.

They are slightly more visible with the heel turned.  Slightly.

Anyway they don't look awful, which would be worse than looking invisible: the socks will be long enough thanks to the additional yardage, and that was the point of patching two colours into one project.

I wish I could photograph the feel of this sock fabric.  I can't even think of anything to compare it to except maybe a particularly hardy mitten?  but even then, I've never had a mitten so tough and so softly floppy, simultaneously.  And dense!  These are going to be seriously warm socks.

I can hardly believe I'm going to have enough pairs of them to stay toasty all through next winter without rationing, but I'm pretty sure I bought enough boot sock yarn for six pairs and I had a pair or two left over from last summer's knitting.  Plus yarn for still another pair left over from last summer's not knitting.  As long as I wash the boot socks every five days or so - gotta leave time for drying - I shouldn't run out at all.

Of course, there's always the risk that I will anyway, so I'm thinking I should plan right now to go to the Kitchener-Waterloo yarn sale in September, to buy more of Silvia's amazing yarn.

I had a super knitty weekend and still didn't manage to start any of the hats that are weighing on my creative conscience.  Thought of an idea for yet another though.  Wonder whether even one of them will make it onto the needles this week?  Maybe I should set that as this week's personal goal.

Or... I could just knit socks.  H'mmmmm.

(you know I'm totally going to try to do both.  what are you going to try to do?)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Black and white and socks all over

Sometimes it takes the glamour shots of a finished project to give a girl ideas:

And not about polishing one's boots either, though that is certainly called for.  Probably these socks aren't giving you any ideas at all (except maybe a recurring one about me knitting something other than socks some day so that the pictures at Hugs cover a broader landscape for ten minutes.)

Surely they look like what they are - a perfectly nice pair of striped socks in boots.

Yes? No.

Not entirely striped.  This is the second pair of socks I made in Twisted Fiber Arts' Night Circus-inspired colourway Le Cirque. I wasn't going to have enough stripey for the foot so I did it in black.

And you know, what seemed like a compromise at the time now looks pretty darned cool to me.  I love how the foot is a solid colour - well, as solid as one gets in hand-dyed yarn.

I superhugely love the hits of brown in this black shade.  And how long the socks are, and therefore how yummy warm they will be on a cool fall day.

Not to mention comfy!

Okay, I'll stop now.  You just can't take that many glamour shots of a black and white sock.

The idea I'm getting is to stripe some of my Stoddart socks all the way down the leg instead of just up at the cuff, and then maybe do the foot and the toe all in one colour.  After all, I only stripe them and do contrast heels and toes because otherwise I wouldn't have enough yarn to make them long enough in the leg, right?  Striping them all the way down to the heel flap might make up the difference and leave me free for a monochrome foot.

I'm not sure it'll work with the ones I'm knitting now (yes, they're onto the needles in spite of spinning and a million other socks and those hat designs I can't stop thinking about) but as I bank more scraps from the first pairs I might be able to pull it off.   And if I do, those socks will definitely be more colourful than these ones.

For now though I will bid you farewell with best wishes for a very fine weekend indeed, and be on my way - with luck, I'll be able to beat back the clamouring socks long enough to set up at least one of the obsession-producing hats, but even if I don't I still expect to have some fun. 

And maybe cake! because Father's Day is a perfectly good excuse for some.  See you Monday.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Spinning and listening

Having a lot of interesting knitting to do hasn't stopped me from spinning more yarn.

It's probably the time of year.  For some reason early summer and Christmas are two times I just want to hold wool and work a treadle.

This is more Stoddart mohair/romney roving - I'm still working on consistent yarn for handspun socks - and I'm spinning huge bumps of Silvia's hand-dyed roving into sets of three singles to ply together later.

Even divided into three, it takes a long time to get through each lump, but...

the colours are so gorgeous.

Still, it's lucky that I've figured out to combine my Kindle with audiobooks - it's embarrassingly easy, now that I know how.  I don't even have to use earphones unless I'm trying to be quiet for somebody else - there are speakers on the back of the Kindle that do a perfectly fine job with the sound.  And I can carry it all over the house with me while I'm tidying up or doing other boring things I wasn't able to push off onto somebody else or ignore entirely.

I think I mentioned that I'm listening to Millions Like Us, about the lives of women in England during World War II.  It's a 19-hour recording, which might take me through most of the roving, and I don't mind... normally for history like this I prefer to read hard copy so I can easily refer back to something that didn't stick, but this audiobook is voiced by an excellent narrator as well as several excellent actors for different women's remarks.

This period of history has always interested me, but at the moment I seem to be taking it to extremes.

Reading: The on-paper book I'm working through right now is We Are At War, excerpts from World War II diaries kept for the Mass Observation project.  Flipping back and forth from the audiobook to We Are At War is just a continuation of the same kind of source material.

Movies: I don't think I've seen any this week that weren't set during WWII or immediately afterward.  The most fun one was Janie (1944), about a resourceful teenager who falls for a soldier (till the marines march into town.)

TV: Hello, Foyle's War... now into a new miniseries of postwar intrigue.

So basically, my life is drifting from 1939 to about 1946 right now.  And the one thing ringing in my ears is the English women's constant refrain when asked how they coped: "You just got on with it!"

It's so simple, and it's so true - just keep on.

Keeping on with spinning, of course, is simply a pleasure.  I wonder whether women were able to do that in England in the 1940s... probably not, as so much livestock was culled and any available wool would have been kept for the war effort, to say nothing of the hours spent handspinning that could be redirected to war work.

Women certainly did knit though, some of them all through the night in the Underground during the Blitz.  I'm reading about many who found it helped them cope with the stress, never mind the need to knit socks for soldiers as many knitters still do today, though thankfully less from necessity than from love and gratitude.

Speaking of love and necessity, it is necessary for me to find love for my first handspinning effort, knit into an ungainly scarf I thought I could pass off as arty if I just blocked it properly.  I did that last week and it dried over the weekend and yesterday I looked at it and... um...

well, it's cute rolled up, and it matches my living room.  Should I turn it into a little tubular cushion perhaps?  or maybe pin it over the window as a yarnbombed valance?  Or maybe 'arty scarf' is still the way to go.

While I ponder that (and any remarks with which you might wish to weigh in on the question) go have a wonderful day.  Keep on getting on with it, as the ladies of my reading efforts recommend - that's my plan!  though which 'it' it will be remains to be seen as there's rather a lot of choice at the moment...

... socks

... hat design idea

... spinning

... different socks

... jam on toast, ahem

... different hat idea

... or maybe that almost forgotten cardi?

It all looks pretty good.  Maybe a little of several, and some cookie-baking on the side? I can listen to an audiobook doing that, too.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Without pink toes

Well, that was a really good idea about adding some pink stripes to the toes of the washing machine socks, if only I'd seen the comments on yesterday's post before I knit straight to blue:

In good news, I probably didn't have enough pink yarn left anyway.

Still, the socks are done!

and I love them sooo much.

Loving the idea of running in all those ends...

... sooo much less.

What price beauty, etc.

I showed some signs of sanity when I finished grafting the second toe, and did not immediately cast on the next pair of winter boot socks.  But I did choose colours and put the yarn into my winter boot sock project bag, so...

(yeah, like that's gonna last.  pictures next week, if I can wait that long.)

Have a great day, and knit fast! I'll see you tomorrow with something that isn't a sock.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Knitting socks for the washing machine

Have you ever let your colour decisions be influenced by that old rhyme, "blue and green should never be seen, except in your mother's washing machine"?  I have to admit I've second guessed myself every time I've paired these two colours, even though everybody knows that forest green cardis look fabulous over a good pair of blue jeans.

That's why, when I cast on these socks over the weekend, it seemed like a good idea to throw in some pink stripes.  And then as soon as I did it, it seemed like it was a really, really bad idea.

Naturally, I kept going, because you can't really tell when you only have a little bit of cuff to judge by.  I went all the way to the heel,

and I'm still not sure.  Is there enough of that periodic hit of blue in the green part to draw in the contrasting heel and cuff?  Would it do a better job if I didn't have bubblegum pink stripes confusing things?  Have I somehow hit upon a sock-based manifestation of 1985?

Gah, except for that last question - Yes, it's 1985 in these socks - I don't know.  All I can tell you is that this sock

is just as chompy as the others.

Well, it's chompy in a good way: it's pretty much eating up the yarn as fast as I can let it go, I'm that obsessed with finishing it and its mate.  Why a heavy mohair-blend sock should be that riveting when it's getting so hot out again I do not understand, but I can't seem to knit anything else since I cast them on, and I just want them nearby all the time.

How come knitting gets like that - all obsess-able?

Hope your day, whether or not it's occupied by a project you're obsessing about, is awesome.  See you tomorrow!

p.s. these socks are so not going into the washing machine, unless it's on 'soak': they'd felt in about ten seconds.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Fun with new knitting tools

Surprise alert: about ten seconds after I opened the bucket o' double pointed needles last week, I had cast on some new socks.

I know, I know, if I could be there to fan you back to sensibility, I would.  But seriously: how cute is that picture?  I think I need to start a Pinterest board just for the knitting pictures I've taken that make me happy, so I can find them all in one easy place.

Now, what I've got cast on up there are the last two club yarns from Knitterly Things.  On the left, we have Dancing Waters trying out a set of Knitter's Pride Nova, a nickel-plated needle.  On the right, Spring Garden is set up on a quartet of cute blue Pony Pearls in a plastic/something else combo. 

Without knitting further, I can tell you that if you've worked with KnitPicks Harmony Wood, you've pretty much worked with Knitter's Pride Dreamz, and the same goes for Nova and Knitpicks' nickel needles.  I do have one more skein of Knitterly Things yarn in my stash*, and I seriously considered casting on with the Dreamz that came in this shipment.  Then I did a quick comparison and found the Dreamz are actually slightly less slippery than the Harmony Wood so, um, not today.  Wood needles are awesome and I do love them, but I'm on an information-gathering mission and I've already got their number.

I think I also have the Pony Pearls' number.  You wouldn't expect this because, being partly plastic, they are really too bendy to be quick, but are they fun.  (that was sort of a rhetorical question: yes, they are fun.)  They don't feel slippery and technically they aren't, but for some reason there is no problem knitting fast on them.  And the bendy is actually pretty comfortable in your hands.  They have fairly stubby tips, but the material is smooth enough to make up for the lack of precision there.  I am pretty sure I like them.

*Digression Alert:

OMIGOSH!  I thought I would never get to the bottom of my Vesper sock yarn, and here I only have one skein of stripey stuff left that's never been knit.  Admittedly I do have two skeins of slightly heavier solid-colour Vesper I have to get around to (hello, lace) and the solid heel and toe yarns I bought when I still cared about doing contrasts for those bits (hello, more lace) but if I finish these socks soon I will be almost caught up.

End Digression.

There was one more set of double pointed needles in that envelope so against my better judgment, and with serious consideration before I did it, I used them to cast on the second Universal Sock.

It's not really a good idea to switch needles partway through a project because even in the same size, every different material feels different in your hands and can affect your tension.  Changing between socks?  You are totally setting yourself up for one sock that feels tighter than the other.

On the other hand, not using the Karbonz needles to knit the second sock would mean using the Signatures again for the duration and I just could not face it.  It was such a joy to get to the Karbonz - which in itself was unexpected because I didn't think I'd like them - that after I got enough down the leg to be sure my tension hasn't changed too much from sock number one, I ordered several (cough) more sets.

Okay, that's all I'm going to say about my dpn testing for now.  When I'm further along I'll set up a point by point (heh) comparison which hopefully will help you decide which type of dpn might work for you, next time you're in the market for some.

Meanwhile... well, I'm afraid I succumbed to a different project after knitting about an inch on each of these socks.  I'll show you what, tomorrow.  Till then, have a great day with something crafty in it!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Finished socks and other knitting excitements

On Tuesday I wrote that I wanted to finish two socks this week, hoping that would make it happen.  Well, probably it wasn't writing it down so much as knitting diligently on the socks wherever and whenever I could scrape up an opportunity to do so, but Yay!

I knit some Universal Sock on the GO train...

(rolling up the cuff really helped to keep the work from swaying and dragging as I knit)

And while waiting for the bus...

And, of course, I knit both socks through every movie I could find on TV when I wasn't supposed to be doing something else (and also, when I was supposed to be doing something else - hello: not much self control here.)


It paid off.  Super yay!  There is just so much more knitting to do than there is time to do it, it feels fabulous to finish something.  Even though the superheavy pink socks, obviously, won't be practical till next November.  (that sock looks about two sizes bigger than the stripey one, doesn't it - yet they both fit me perfectly: mysteries of knitting.)

The Universal Sock is the first I've knit on round double-pointed needles in quite a while.  On the next size up in square needles, the gauge is a tiny bit bigger and the rows are enough taller to be noticeable over 80 of them - consequently, this sock doesn't reach as far up my leg on the other most recent pairs I've knit.  Too late to adjust for this pair but for my next new pair, I think I'll knit longer before I start the heel.

Thankfully my feet are pretty small so there will be enough yarn to do it.

That was just the first of the Universal socks, so I still have to knit the other.  The Sunshine and Bubblegum socks, however, are now ready for running in the ends.

SUPER yay!! You know I'm totally leaving that job till I have six more pairs like them in the finishing basket like last year, but I'm still thrilled.

 Not as thrilled as I was to get this in the mail though:

Yaaaaayyyyyy!  and I know that Dancing Waters was thrilled too.

You bet I am!

There you go: patience pays off, especially since WEBS ships so crazy fast.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend - you know I'm going to - and I'll see you on Monday!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Knit inspiration: texture day

Like everybody else in this part of the world, I've noticed a lot of spring greenery bursting forth every time I step out of the house.

The textures (not to mention the colour ranges) that come out of plants is pretty amazing, don't you think?

Texture is something I love in knitting, though most of my choices over the past few years have been purely practical and stocking stitchy, because that's something I can do while I'm doing three other things.

Back in my late teens and 20s, I was all about Aran knitting.  The thrill of getting to the row where you could cross a set of cables!  And I was knitting with way bigger needles than I do now, so those rows seemed to come up a lot faster than, say, the next colour shift in a self-striping sock.

I wonder... I bet a pair of fingering-weight socks doesn't take me any longer today than a size small Aran sweater did back then.  The difference is the amount of time I can/could find to focus on them.

Just now, working on my lace shawl, I'm enjoying the way increases and decreases produce a perfect leaf pattern.  Symmetry: it's so amazing.  And of course... it's making me want to knit another lace hat...

or an Aran hat...

or any hat...

It's been a while, after all.  And hats are such a great vehicle to show off texture.

Do you ever look at a picture and want to knit it?  Because that last picture there of sweet woodruff and wet flagstone - I really want to knit that.

Hey, does that mean I have to wait even longer?

Sadly, no, Dancing Waters - as soon as the mail comes, all thoughts of hats will be thrown to the winds.  I promise.  

And for everybody else - hope you get to work on something today that you really want to knit - (and that I do too!)