Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Two Toe Tuesday: House Socks in the Nick of Time

Hearth & Home Socks

It's been over two months since I last finished a pair of socks. This wouldn't seem so surprising if I hadn't started three pair during that time, which means that I had FIVE pair of socks on the needles at once. I will list them, as proof: House Socks, Poppies, Mr. Stripey, Stripey Sock, School Bus Socks. Let us not speak of pair #6, the Pink Footies, which haven't seen action since November 2006 and should really be ripped out because I don't like the way they look and I don't want to knit socks on DPNs ever again.

It's quite a relief to be finished with this pair, and not just because I wasn't sure I'd ever finish another sock. The pattern comes from Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters book, it is the Hearth & Home Eyelet Anklets in the Ridgeway Sock Architecture.

What I don't like about the pattern: I don't love the eyelet/ribbing trim at the top of the sock, and I found the pattern very frustrating--not because it was difficult or counterintuitive, but because I had to shuffle through a stack of photocopies every time I needed to move from one section to another. This drives me totally bananas, because inevitably I end up missing a page and then I have to dig out the book and figure out what's next.

Also, in order to ensure a proper fit, a gauge swatch is pretty important, and I prefer not to swatch for socks. The swatch determines the "magic numbers" that determine the number of stitches you start with, so if you start the toe without doing a swatch, weird adjustments may be necessary. The solution is to use the same yarn repeatedly, or to have a better understanding of the architectures so that I can fudge without referring to my Calculus textbook (especially since I threw it away 15 years ago).

What I do like about the pattern: The sock looks weird off the foot, but it fits really, really well and I think it looks good. The socks are for me to wear around the house, and I like the little bit of pattern on the top and the cushy heel. Despite all of my complaining, I do like to learn new techniques, and the concept behind Cat's sock architectures is fascinating.

What I like about the yarn: This is the first time I've used Melody by Jojoland, and I really like this yarn. I love the long color repeats, and how the two strands blended together in the socks. I think it would be interesting to use strands of two different colorways. I had no issues with splitting, and only minor problems with tangling that were entirely my fault.

I haven't washed & blocked the socks, because we still don't have heat--it looks like we need a new furnace, not just a new part for the 16 year old furnace. This would have been very good information to get on day 1 of the furnace outage, instead of day 6. Anyway, I'll wash & block later--for now, I need to put those puppies on!

Last night I cast on another Unoriginal Hat, again in Leticia, but in the Rook-y colorway:


I love the color of this yarn, too, and it seems a little less thick/thin than the last skein. Maybe the winding twisted the yarn? I may have used more tension when winding the first skein, although this one looked fluffier to begin with. In any case, I'm looking forward to another quick knit--in between working on all of those socks.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Quick Like A Bunny


Wow, this hat was quick to knit. Fixing "the Problem" wasn't too tough, either, and I can't tell which cable it was that was fixed. The hat is pretty snug on my giant head, but it doesn't pop off or anything. I haven't yet washed & blocked it, so I'm not sure how much it will grow--this is definitely waiting until the heat is back on. In any case, the person I'm planning to give this to has a smaller head than I do, so I think that the fit will be fine. The closer-up photo below makes the hat look taller than it is, probably because it's over a Pyrex measuring cup with a ball of yarn on top of it. The color is pretty true in both of these photos, they were taken in a sunny spot. Yesterday's photos were taken with the help of a full-spectrum bulb, so the colors look a little different (redder).

Although I wish that the thickness of the yarn was more consistent, I do really like the yarn and the finished product. If I believed that the yarn would come in time, I'd probably order a few more skeins to knit up for Christmas. I keep having to remind myself that I already have enough holiday knitting on my plate, and that late November isn't the time to add more!

Unoriginal Hat

Saturday, November 24, 2007

This is What Cables Look Like (Right??)


My long-awaited Ravens landed on my doorstep yesterday, and I cast on the Yarn Harlot's Unoriginal Hat immediately. I'm planning to make a couple of these for Christmas, and I'd like to get one of them in the mail fairly soon, so the quickness of the project really appeals. Plus, it's a c-u-t-e hat without being cutesy or dull.

So far, the hat looks great (I'm almost half-way through), right? What's that you say? You'd like to see the other side? Here it is:


Hmmm. . . that doesn't look quite the same, does it? I dropped a stitch, and it fell quite a ways--six rows (or halfway back to the cast-on edge). I think I must have dropped it when I was moving to bigger needles so I could try it on, that's the only explanation. I'm trying to decide whether it will be quicker to rip or fix, I'm leaning towards fix at the moment. Since this yarn is unevenly spun, the stitches aren't super crisp so the fix should be easy to hide. However, the unevenness also makes it tough to see if I'm picking up the right stitches. Either way, hopefully this will be done tonight!

The vitals: Leticia Yarn by Blue Moon Fiber Arts in the Valkyrie colorway. The yarn is very, very soft and I love the colors, although I wish that it was a little more evenly spun. Size 10.75 (7.0mm) Addi Natura 16" needles, with help from an longer INOX pair that doesn't magic loop well.

p.s. Thanks for the warm furnace thoughts. Hopefully it will be fixed on Monday or Tuesday, it depends on how long it takes for the part to arrive.

Arrrrgh, more booty!

This arrived yesterday, and it may be my favorite Yarn Pirate Booty Club shipment so far! It took a little longer to arrive than usual due to a mailing glitch, so I did peek at some other spoilers first. I was still surprised--the colors are so vibrant!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

That Sugar Cane That Tasted Good

Sugar Cane

This is sugar cane on Kauai . . . it's helping me think warm thoughts. Our furnace malfunctioned yesterday (it's a bad sign when you wake up to the smell of chemical smoke), so no heat for Thanksgiving. No heat is pretty manageable even though it's chilly (44 degrees right now), but we also woke up to a broken coffee maker. That's just wrong!!!

Hope that you're warmer than I am, and enjoying delicious Thanksgiving foods! I should start cooking soon, but I'm having trouble tearing myself away from the electric blanket. And the dachshund heaters, too.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Two Toe Tuesday: Now, With Two Totes!


E____ G_____ is visiting from Boston, and we've been touristing and crafting up a storm. You want evidence? You've got it. Above, the two toes we've knit in Kaffe Fassett Regia Sock Yarn. The pattern is a simple toe-up, afterthought heel sock from Renaissance Yarns. Before I tell you who knit which color, E____ wants me to ask which one looks prettier. I think they both look good!

Last night, I gave E___ a sewing lesson. She already knows how to sew a little, but she's very detail oriented and wants to learn the right way to do things. Which means that my mom should teach her instead of me, because my sewing can be a little sloppy. Anyway, we each made an Artsy Clutch from Amy Karol's "Bend the Rules Sewing". Very simple, cute project, and I had all of the materials on hand (except the elastic, which I have but couldn't find). E___'s is on the right in the photos below--she picked great fabrics & I only made her cry a couple of times during the lesson. These are pretty small, but they hold the single Stripey Sock just fine.


I can definitely see making more of these, possibly with pieced fabrics or embellished fabrics. Rhinestone unicorn, anyone? Maybe a little larger, too, and maybe I'll try a little harder to center the elastic loop. In any case, I'm pretty happy with the way this turned out.

Tissue HoldersIn other sewing news, I did a little sewing before E___'s arrival. My Mom's church bazaar was the day after E__ arrived, and I didn't make anything at all in advance. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! It turned out fine, though--before going to the airport, I whipped out some fabric tissue holders using this pattern. It's a good use for small fabric leftovers, and they are very quick to put together. I only sold 5 of them this year (vs. 12 or 14 last year), so I have plenty left for Christmas gifts. Next year, maybe I'll make some with matching eyeglass cases or little tote bag things. I'll try not to just save the tissues that are in these for a year, and then resell them when they get musty. That's bad crafting!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Petals Collection: Kit #3

The final installment of Sundara Yarn's Petals Collection arrived today, and it is lovely--possibly my favorite of the three I received (although I also love Poppy a lot). Enjoy the spoilage, if you dare! I'm really going to miss the club, I managed somehow to resist the Seasons Collection. I think that in 2008 I will not belong to any sock clubs, at least not at the beginning of the year. The backlog is tremendous right now, I need some catch-up time. Let's hope the willpower holds up!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Too Soon the Sunrise Will Wake Her

Hawaiian Sunrise

You have to get up pretty freaking early to capture the sunrise in Kauai--this was the view from our hotel, on our last day of vacation, shortly after I woke up to register for the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival. Now it's back to work, and dealing with the annoying realities of travel--laundry, broken souveniers, spilled lotions in suitcases, the usual. Plus, while we were gone the Tivo channel changer moved, so none of our regular shows recorded. And today, Frieda got out of the yard and ate something that upset her stomach. Repeatedly. In the Living Room.

Ah . . . so good to be back . . .

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Where Does the Sky Begin?

House Sock at Pu'u o Kila Today we drove all the way around Kauai (until the road ended) to see the Waimea Canyon and the Ocean View from the Pu'u o Kila Lookout. I took about a gazillion photos--it's pretty unbelievable that such a huge canyon exists on what is really a pretty small island. It feels very cliche to even write about how beautiful this Island looks, but there isn't any way around it--the lush greenery, the crazy red canyon, the blue, blue ocean.

Eventually, I'll get more of the photos together, but in the spirit of knitting blogs, here's one of Mom holding the 2nd House Sock at the Pu'u o Kila Lookout. It's really tough to see where the ocean ends and the sky begins, the view is amazing.

Due to an unfortunate foot sprain about a week ago (Mom, not me), we're not doing a ton of walking / hiking on this trip--it's a lot of drive, get out & see what's around or shop, get back in the car and drive some more. Although in theory I'd love to do some more outdoorsy stuff, it's really too sunny and hot for my pasty Northwest skin to be outside all the time. I'm much happier in the shade. Now that we've seen the big nature-y sights, though, tomorrow will probably involve some beach walking / pool sitting time . . . at least until we go to the inevitable Luau! I have a feeling that it's going to feel very Brady Bunch, but the lure of roast pig is too much for me to resist.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Garden / Shopping Isle?

Kauai Nov 2007

Kauai is unbelievably gorgeous. Yesterday we spent the morning getting our bearings and getting some basic shopping out of the way, and spent the afternoon driving up the East / North coasts. And then shopping some more. Despite the sign above, no yarn has been purchased so far--I'm waiting until we visit fabric stores before spending any dough on craft supplies. The yarn store did have some really nice yarns, although the one I liked best was a mohair blend, which I'm afraid to knit with. Today we're changing hotels and then driving up the west coast of the island . . . I'd better get cracking!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Hey, I Was Walking My Bag

New Knitting Bag

Several weeks ago, Ravelry was all abuzz about a new knitting bag, made in Seattle by Tom Bihn. It was designed with input from a Knitty contest that I somehow never heard about. I ordered mine as soon as it came out, and picked it up at their showroom a couple of days later. Evidently, many of the colors sold out right away, so I'm glad that I jumped on it so quickly.

I've been carrying the bag every day for a few weeks, including using it as a carry-on on my flight from Orlando - Seattle. It has plenty of room for the things I carry on a daily basis, which can range from a single small project, a book, and my wallet to a couple of projects and files and my laptop when I need it for meetings. The bag has two clear zippered pockets at the top of the bag, a key leash that clips to a ring inside the bag, and a small project bag that also can clip to a ring inside. I didn't have the project bag with me when I took the photos above, but it's pretty cool--it's plenty big for a sock project (or two), and it has a ring inside to thread your yarn through.

In the photo on the right, the bag (which is not at all full) contains:
  • My Chevron Scarf knitting bag
  • The finished Lace Triangle
  • Suite Francaise, the book I was reading while travelling
  • Hello Kitty make-up bag
  • Anemoi Mittens (you never know when it will be chilly)
  • Wallet
  • IPod and Phone (unfortunately, not the same device)
  • Various papers, pens, etc. in the clear zippered pockets

This morning I took out the Lace triangle and the mittens, and added two more knitting projects and a zippered pouch with notions in it, and it still doesn't feel stuffed.

The bag stays on my shoulder, and I can hold it in one hand to put on my shoulder, unless I'm carrying my laptop. I was a little worried about the open top, because I tend to throw stuff in the bag, and I don't want things to fall out when the bag falls over (like in the car). It hasn't been a problem, though--I just throw loose stuff in the zippered pocket and zip it up. I use a small zippered pouch from Queen Bee as a wallet, and I clip it to the key strap (see bottom right photo below). It's easy to find when I need it, and it would be tricky to steal without me feeling it--good for travelling. Sometimes I forget to tuck it back into the bag, and then I feel like an idiot, but at least it's color coordinated.

The exterior fabic is very durable, and the sock project bag has enough heft that the needles won't poke through (or at least they haven't yet). The olive / cocoa colors of my bag are perfect for fall & winter, and are a nice change from the extremely bright Messenger Bag that I carried around all summer. Plus, the plain color doesn't hide my Zombie Mustache button--I love that the kids are wearing 80's style buttons again. It means that big '80's hair is just around the corner.

The only concern I have is that in very rainy weather (there was quite a downpour in Orlando), the top is open and water could potentially get in the bag. Realistically speaking, though, I'm not outside in really bad weather all that often, and usually it isn't a big surprise. It rains a lot here, but there's not usually torrential rain.

Overall, I'm very pleased with the bag so far, and am planning to take it with me to Kauai. I seriously cannot believe that I haven't heard of this company before, I am now considering several other bags, and maybe another project or organizer bag for this one. If you want to read more about this bag, there's a (far more informative) review here.

New Knitting Bag - More

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Two Toe Tuesday: Dog Nose Edition


Oh, Frieda--why are you not more impressed with my knitting? Wait a sec, I forgot that dachshunds can only destroy knitting, and that Frieda's archenemy is the sock. Well, socks are one of her archenemies. Her other archenemies include:
  • Gretel
  • Chester, a beagle at the dog park who has been antagonizing her by putting her whole head in his mouth since they were puppies. He doesn't bother any other dogs, and is otherwise well behaved.
  • Vacuum Cleaners

Note that I took six photos with flash (it's too dark without, so I'll settle for iffy colors) and she barely moved.

Back to the new toe. I started the second House Sock on Sunday, it may be another good project to take on my trip. If there's room in my bag of the 10 pages of photocopied pattern bits that are necessary to complete the sock, that is. Also, I'm not sure how this is possible, but my notes are a little sketchy on sock 1, so there is some danger that the socks won't be identical. Since the measurements are all for my feet, I'm sure that they will be close enough--they are House Socks, not Wear Out on the Town and Show 'Em Off socks. This should be the last project I start before Thursday, as I have a TON of work work to do between now and then, and I am bound to make mistakes if I start something without a little focus.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

I Don't Know Why You Say Goodbye

Good-bye, Mystery Stole 3:


Hello, Autumn Lace Scarf:


I've been thinking about abandoning the Mystery Stole for awhile now, and today I finally took the plunge and ripped it out. I started a little late, and although I like the pattern (even the controversial "wing") my motivation really dropped off after I started two other lace shawls, and I don't think it's coming back. The yahoo groups dynamic really turned me off, too--way too many messages that were totally off topic, repeats of other topics, or that attacked other knitters. Also, I don't like knitting from gigantic charts, I like patterns that repeat across more than really large patterns. Although it does look nice in the photo above, doesn't it? That's natural light for you. The Hanami Stole by the same designer is more up my alley, it's already in my Ravelry queue.

I'm glad that I finally ripped it out, and not just so that I can reuse the yarn for another project that I'm more interested in right now. I have a small tendency to hold onto projects that I've lost interest in or that have a flaw that I'm not ready to address. This is definitely a step in the right direction.

I'm now using the yarn for Evelyn Clark's Autumn Lace Scarf, which is available on her brand new website. I think I've overstretched it a bit above, and a stray MS3 bead has weaseled it's way into the frame. I'm making it wider by one pattern repeat, so that there will be three large leaves across instead of two. In laceweight yarn, the scarf is about 9 inches wide, and since I have plenty of extra yarn, a little wider can't hurt. So far, so good. The yarn is Alpaca with a Twist Fino, and I'm using size US4 needles--same as the Mystery Stole.

This seems like a good project to take on vacation. Its nice and portable, but with enough patterning to keep it interesting. I'll also take the Bee Fields, most likely, and the Poppy Socks so that I have a choice of projects. It's hard to tell whether I'll have a lot of non-aircraft knitting time & mojo, and what I'll feel like working on. With two very long flights, there'll be plenty of time to mix it up--now I just need to make it through three and a half very stressful days of work, and I'll be ready to go!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Bee-tch is Back

Swarm Me

It's been awhile since I've posted about the Bee Fields Shawl, and there's a good reason for it. The reason is that I stopped working on it during the reign of the Lace Triangle, but I recently picked it up again and I think I'm back in the groove. The rows are really, really long now, so it's slow going. There are only another 15 rows or so until I move out of the bee swarm and into the last section. I really like that the sections have gotten progressively more difficult, though I wonder if it means that there will be a lot of ripping in the last section, which introduces something like five new chart symbols. I'm also terrified of the giant tangled mess that I still haven't sorted out after screwing up one of the skeins from my kit, but I'll face that fear later, when I use up all of the other yarn in the kit.