Sunday, January 30, 2011

In These Boots?

I have new boots, thanks to a very generous donor.  So, I needed boot socks!  What better way to fill my desire to knit socks, than with worsted weight yarn?

Even if it is crappy yarn.

I call it 'crappy' because it has more acrylic content than I would like to be in my socks... a whopping eighty percent.  The upside of this is that I don't feel guilty every time I walk around the house in just my socks-- on my feet.  I'm chalking it up to an experiment.  Rather than simply jumping on the bandwagon of hate (or defense) of this yarn, I'm gonna try it out firsthand and see how I like it.  If it works out well, then I know I can knit socks for cheap.  I hope to knit more pairs of socks in worsted weight yarns, to see how they hold up to different tests... comfort, durability, washability... things like that.  Overall, I figure I will naturally return first to the socks I like best, and there shall be my Great Sock Experiment.  We'll see how that turns out as time goes by.

Enough talk.  Pictures!

Now they match...

Now they don't!

Now they match...

Now they don't!

In these boots?

Oh, I'm having fun tricking you!


Some people have to travel to fancy conferences to get their celebrity sock picture.  It's not exactly Kinnearing, but I have my own cheap solution.  Actually, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's sock instructions were a helpful guide by which these socks were coaxed into existence, so the book kinda happened to be handy when I finished the second sock.  Speaking of which, I'm reading another book!  There it is!

One more sock photo.

I couldn't decide which colors to use, so I decided not to sweat it.  I'm so glad I didn't.  My feet get sweaty enough as it is.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

It is time!

I had the nicest surprise this evening after work.

Stephen West's Book 2 patterns are up on Ravelry for peeking.

Now for some FO show-and-tell!

Well, mostly show.  I think these speak for themselves.



Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Here's Proof

I didn't tell you, but I snuck a quickie hat in during the weekend.

I started Saturday, finished Sunday, and finally had some sunlight today for photographs.  Knitting this hat as a multi-functional hat is not a new concept, as it's the third time I used the Jacques Cousteau Hat pattern, but this time I decreased in six places instead of four, tweaked the last couple rounds with extra K2togs, and I feel fairly good about the results.

This yarn, while still not shown perhaps to it's full advantage, has been calling me to knit it ever since I rescued it from the shop rack.  Feels good to have scratched the itch.

I made a point to weave in the yarn neatly, so it could be worn reversibly.  The colors look strikingly different when more of the reverse stockinette is showing.

Okay, so I know the colors are a bit much.  The saving grace is that the same orange that sings in the anti-cowl is in the hat, as you can see.  It's funny, but both yarns look strikingly dull by artificial light-- more so than a lot of colors.  But when the sun comes out, so do these colorways.   I wonder how they react under black lights... not that they make great clubbing material or something.

Oh, and I made my way to the library and picked up The Dark Is Rising.  Woot!  I'm reading!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I hear and obey...this time

I write this post not because I feel I have the time, but because I've been a busy beaver and would like to clue y'all in on my activities.

I've been riding the bus since my car apparently kicked the bucket.  It's not all a bad thing, especially when I make it to the stop early enough for a few moments to take in the sunrise.  

Or, as in today's case, the lack of sun.  The brooding sky reminded me of a series of books I read as an adolescent, The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper.  If I knew where I could get them, I'd try reading them again.  Speaking of reading, that's one of my resolutions:
Become literate.  Finish a book. 

Yarndude was the first to generously complain that I had not shared my thoughts regarding new year resolutions and the like.  Well, after some mulling over and trying to put mulled thoughts into action, here's a few of the thoughts I have as I begin this year.

Last year was the year of shawls.  I'm so over shawls.  For now.  Socks, bring it on!  Inspired by the Yarn Harlot's pair-per-month plan, I've printed out my favorites of the sock patterns I've been collecting and subsequently not knitting.  I have tried to pair them with yarn from my stash and put them in bags... it's a bit messy, and I need to find some place to stash the bags.  I'm not feeling super strict about it, though, and if I don't knit twelve pairs this year I won't feel badly.  But I definitely would like to have a few more handknit socks this year... say, at least three pair.  I also would like to knit some for others.  Like the pair I started first, which happen to be the Yarn Harlot's Earl Grey Socks, done in almost the same grey as she used in the pattern.  I've lost some motivation on this one, probably because I decided partway through to knit continental style.  

I also have sake socks I'm working on for my non-knitting sister.  She likes black.  I would complain at this point, but for two saving graces:

  1. This will be a gift, and part of the joy is bending my desires to please the recipient.
  2. I remembered that I have Madeline Tosh ToshSock in the colorway Graphite.  Close enough to black without making me want to kill myself.  Yesss!

Since my first attempt at the first sake sock was too tight in the cast on row, I am using the twisted German cast on for the first time.  In addition to being sturdy and stretchier, it was a bit easier to knit into.  I'm loving the ease of the stitch pattern, without seeming monotonous.  It won't show very well in the color I'm using, which is actually a good thing, since my sister is not exactly looking to have something flamboyant on her feet.  She always was more "butch" than I.

Right side with provisional cast on
I'm actually doing a good bit of knitting for other people right now.  Okay, two of them I consider belated Christmas gifts.  The Matthew Shepard Scarf is on a bit of a vacation, having borne the brunt of a lot of frogging along the way.  I finished the first side and moved on to the center ribbing, but am undecided if I like what I've done with the ribbing. I also know I need to rip back the bindoff and seed stitch border to fix an error that bothers me.  Great stitch definition = a penchant for showing every error.  It's okay, I still love the yarn with this pattern.  I've just taken some detours.
Wrong side

Here's some earlier photos of the scarf right and wrong side, both of which look handsome, in my opinion.  As it turns out, I was being stupid about the decreases, and now I understand how they should be done.  My clearly superior center decrease provides the lovely design element of an outie bellybutton. 

Mom's sweater is the other Christmas item...maybe I should knit her something small in the meantime to help myself feel better.  I've come up with a potential design idea, but have yet to knit a swatch of the design I want to place on the front.  I started it in the wrong yarn, not wanting to use the nice stuff until I'm sure the cable-y bit will work.  Well, I just haven't recovered. 

Another of my intentions is to get spinning again.  Spinning yarn, that is.  I've already started.

The green stuff is a Christmas present, and I can't wait to ply it and see what happens...but that requires spinning the other braid first.  Since I had finally gotten some spinning mojo back, I couldn't wait any longer to see what would happen when I tried spinning some of my Hedgehog Fibres silk/merino.  It takes a rather different approach to spin it, and I like it.  It feels incredible on the bobbin, and even nicer off.  

I have been compared in a previous life to James Joyce, and I think it is because of the wonderful structure I apply to my writing.  So back to the Scarf...Dave, being ever so complimentary, put words in my mouth when he suggested that I make the ribbing extra long.  I'll keep that idea in mind, Dave, and thanks for comparing me to a cookie.  That's certainly close enough to a pastry to win me over.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Some men prefer lace

...Sure they do!  After hitting "Publish Post" on yesterday's blog entry, the scarf recipient walked into the cafe.  I showed him pictures of the possible scarves, and after talking a bit and showing him the yarn, he said he really liked the stitch in Matthew's Scarf.  Granted, he thought it was cabled, but doesn't that just demonstrate that not all lace is too frilly for men?  Whatever it is, he liked the stitch pattern.  And I'm glad, because I think I'm actually gonna enjoy knitting this scarf.  And I generally hate scarves, since they take for. ev. er.  I'm intrigued by the construction of this scarf, which will have a central section of plain ribbing to go around the neck.  I'm picky about my neck getting full protection from cold air; lace might not be the best thing without having to wrap it multiple times.  The way this scarf is made, it can be crossed over itself in the back so that the lace panels hang neatly down the front in a manner fitting for a gentleman's attire.

I ripped out what I showed in the previous post, and have already re-knit it, plus a couple more rows.  This time, I dropped down two needle sizes, and the rip/re-knit gave me a chance to figure out what I'm doing with the decreases, which are written out in a way I have not been able to decipher.  I'm kinda making that part up, but I think it achieves the desired effect.

Something I did not mention about this yarn that made the pattern choice a real challenge is the way the yarn behaves; in stockinette stitch, the plies line up such that stitches, albeit smooth and silky, appear to lean more heavily on one leg than the other.  The resulting vertical lines bother me, so I think the strong play on textures in Matthew's Scarf will be perfect for this yarn.

A word about swatching: I'm trying to be a better boy when it comes to swatching, having been encouraged in part by Clara Parkes' good words on the subject.  I was really happy that I did some for this project, as I found it to be invaluable in unearthing some of the yarn's qualities.  I still didn't measure the swatch before washing, but at least I washed it and know that the resulting fabric was good they way I knit it.  I mean to say that bit of swatching really helped me overcome my knitting block.  The simple bit of stockinette didn't require advance planning, and it helped me get rolling on this project, while demystifying the fear factor of the yarn.  And again, simply starting in a pattern and not being afraid to rip it all out again was freeing and very helpful.  Now I'm convinced this scarf will be lovely, and much more refined than my usual products.  Now that I think I'm on track, I'm loving this yarn.  And I must say, it has frogged beautifully (probably five or more times).

A couple posts back, Amanda asked,
Did you end up blocking any of the washcloths? ... the blue and green one, did you have many ends to weave in, or carried the yarn somehow?
No, I didn't block them at all.  Especially not the one I knit in front of the Christmas tree.  ;-)  I'm happy that one of them has already found its way into the sink, last time I checked.  I made sure it got used.  As for the one where I alternated colors, I carried the yarns up the inside, switching colors to knit back across all the stitches in the next color.  Now when it came to weaving ends in, four still felt like a lot in this project, especially since I decided to split the strands in half for better concealment.  

I received a bit of a tour of Philadelphia on New Years Day, and I must say it was kinda pretty from atop this hotel.  You'd never guess that down in the street itself, it was a noisy, trashy mob scene.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy 2011!

Best wishes for your the New Year!

I'm taking some time to reflect on the past year's highlights, as well as sum up the thoughts buzzing around in my head as I look forward.  Sometimes I get so caught up in the moment as I knit that I don't look further down the road.  This can be a nice thing, but it's not a way to live.  I guess that's why I enjoy this blog; you readers give me an excuse to pause and think a bit.  If I had people to cook for, I might actually cook real food, as well.

A segue cop-out alternative: Rather than drag you through all my thoughts, here's a quick "hello" and an update.


Once I finished my sister's slippers, I spent the last week in a bit of a knitting slump; I found myself procrastinating on swatching for Mom's sweater vest and a friend's scarf.  I think I am dragging my feet about knitting with such 'refined' yarns as the ones I chose for these projects.  Maybe it's the fact that I am more concerned than usual that the finished products come out looking refined and somewhat dressy.  Usually I'm sloppier than that (or nicely put, 'rustic').  I once noted that a way to challenge myself would be to knit something like Debbie Bliss yarns or patterns.  It's just not my comfort zone.  (I'm keeping a ball of Marr Haven on hand for swatching and furtive petting.)  So I'm inadvertently starting the year with one of those self-challenges we like so much.

A few more words about the scarf: I've been bouncing between three ideas, knitting/swatching/poring over the internet and patterns.  The three ideas are Henry, a honeycomb cabled scarf (similar to the Green Honey Man-Scarf), and the longer Matthew Shepard seaman's scarf.  Each of these has its own challenges or quirks, but I think I've narrowed it down to a honeycomb scarf.  That's with having knit two repeats of the Matthew lace pattern.

My hesitation about the honeycomb scarf is that it is thicker than I would like the scarf to be, and I will probably need to purchase more yarn.   But the Matthew scarf  calls for a lot of attention, and I'm not sure it will be quite as appreciated as an aran scarf (the recipient loves anything Irish).  Enh, stick around to find out the final decision!

Here's to a thoughtful and good year with moving forward and scaling new heights--however silly those heights may seem!