Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tomorrow the Green Grass

I've been thinking all week about starting something new. A knitting project that is so compelling and exciting that I will start and finish it immediately, using the world's best yarn and the tiniest, pointiest needles. Then I snap back to reality, and decide just to keep working on the three projects that are currently in heavy rotation: Summer Sky socks (almost ready for heels), Wino Juno (Five inches knit since the rip-out), and a project that I've been working on pretty regularly at home but not talking about much--the green Autumn Lace scarf. I've camouflaged it pretty well, but if you look closely, you can pick it out in this photo:


Ignore the super professional look of the ends hanging down. The scarf is just about halfway done now, and it's growing on me daily. The yarn (Alpaca with a Twist Fino) has a nice fuzziness to it that I will blame for the photo being slightly out of focus. It is "Fino" for sure--it's easily the thinnest yarn that I've knit with, but the silk content means that it's super strong. Also, the green is really rich, and looked lovely in the dusky sunlight this evening. The pattern is pretty straightforward (though I'm glued to a chart), with enough variation that I'd never knit 15 inches before noticing a serious error. That's not to say that I haven't made any errors, but I've either caught them early enough to avoid ripping this out, or they haven't thrown off the stitch count and I'll find them when it's blocking (ugh). I like that the large leaves make a solid area that shows off the yarn (rather than just the yarn-overs), and I like the strong diagonals. I'm still using the Pattern Tamer with the chart that I talked about in the last post about this scarf, and I'm still really, really happy with it--it does not budge at all when tossed about in the knitting bag.

Here's a closer shot of the pattern, stretched out a little but not severely:


So I started this November, and it's half done in July, so I'm on pace to finish it completely by May of 2009. Or earlier, if I can avoid putting it on ice for six months again. I'm not going to promise that I won't start the world's most perfect knitting project in the meantime (but I do like this one pretty well for now).

Monday, July 28, 2008

You've Got to Be Cruel to Be Kind (In the Right Measure)

I've been working away on Wino Juno, and the more I see how the DIC Baby is knitting up, the more I like it. There's a really nice level of variegation with this yarn--no pooling, no striping, just some nice texture. The pattern is coming along well, it's pretty straightforward and isn't giving me a lot of trouble . . . . now that I've ripped out 15 INCHES OF SCARF. Yes, you read that right--I ripped out 15 inches of this sucker yesterday, back to within a few inches of the end of the diamond lace pattern.

The problem was a missed decrease, which meant that one of the solid lines was wider than all of the others by a stitch. I tried to convince myself that I couldn't see the problem, but after a few days it was still totally evident to me. I've pointed to the place where I missed it right here:

Big Mistake

See the fabric arrow? See how that stripe is slightly wider towards the top? O.K., it isn't really easy to see here, but I could really tell when I pinned out the scarf a little wider, the way it will be once it's blocked. Also, in the process I realized that at some point I made a mistake on the seed stitch border, but I couldn't find that error when I looked (and that, I would have left or corrected surgically later. I don't really think of myself as a super fussy knitter, but when I found myself pointing out the mistake to a non-knitter and saying, "it's o.k., the person I give it to will never notice", I knew that it was time to fix it. Because I haven't really decided who I'm making it for, and I don't want to pick a recipient based on them not caring whether I knit them something with a giant error in it. Because the first thing I would say is "I made a giant error--one stripe is wider than one of the others". Because one of the potential recipients received a scarf from me a few years ago that had a big mistake in it that I didn't realize I'd made until it was too late to fix with any degree of confidence. Anyway, I ripped out everything above the arrow, and I'm not sorry I did it.

Fortunately, the pattern is really straightforward, and it will only take a week or so to re-knit what I've ripped out. But lesson learned, I hope--just because your pattern is set doesn't mean you shouldn't check your numbers every so often . . .

Sunday, July 27, 2008

July, July, July! Never Seemed So Strange

Crazy Week
clockwise from top left: One of Heart Monkey's Boston relatives and I discuss his intake of Planter's Punch, two photos of Wilco in Fairbanks, where it was probably close to 10pm when I took these photos, Farm Sign at J__ and T_'s Wedding

It's been a pretty crazy week around these parts. A 48 hour trip to Somerville / Cape Cod, a bout of incredibly horrible food poisoning on Wed night / Thursday, a 12 hour trip to Fairbanks to see Wilco, and the wonderful wedding (or committment ceremony, if you prefer) of my dear friend T_ to his partner J__. Everything was very tightly planned, except for the food poisoning, and I think that I've held up pretty well, except for the food poisoning. Did I mention the food poisoning? Let's never discuss it again. Today, I'm loafing around, napping, knitting a tiny bit, and trying not to resent that I couldn't stay out late enough for wedding cake last night. In other words, I'm giving moderation a try--I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

And You're the Busiest Girl


I'm still recovering from travelling last weekend (and hardly thinking yet about this weekend), but at the same time I'm itching to break into winding & knitting a new yarn acquisition. A friend at work travelled to the Shetland Islands recently, and brought me the sixteen hanks of yarn above as well as six balls of three neutral colors. Gorgeous, isn't it??? All of it is Spindrift, though only one of the hanks above came labelled with color number and dye lot. The variations between colors are so subtle that I really thought that there were multiples of several of them, but once I took them out of the package there don't seem to be any duplicates.

Must finish my class swatch before I start swatching with these . . . but it's going to be tough!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sing Me to Sleep, Sing Me to Sleep

Neighborhoods, Beachcomber, 7/20/2008

The Neighborhoods, Wellfleet MA, July 19,2008

Back in Seattle, exhausted, but really glad that I went out to Boston for the rock show. I saw as many people beforehand as I could, ate some delicious meals, knit very little, and slept less than 12 hours (not including airplanes or naps) in three nights. Whew!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Seven Nights to Rock

Heart Monkey in Cambridge
One of Heart Monkey's Relatives, Cambridgeside Galleria

My plans for this summer include a lot of music, and this is a particularly busy time for that. 3 rock shows in 10 days in 3 states--and except for tonight's show in MA, I'm not talking about close-together states, either. I get a little tired just thinking about it! I'm also visiting some of Heart Monkey's relatives, though I'm not sure that the one above will be at the rock show tonight--according to J____, he's pretty busy.

The first show was on Wednesday--Aimee Mann at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. Good show, but uneven sound and far too many people. Beautiful weather, though! I guess you can tell that we sat pretty far back, and weren't super engaged when you see the photos I took.

Here's one of the ice cream line:

Ice cream line

This is the ice cream that E__ and I ate:

Jul 16, 2008

I love the new Aimee Mann album, by the way.

Rock Show #2 up tonight! Followed a few hours later by a loooong flight back home. I'll try to get some non-ice cream related photos, although it's super hot and muggy here!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Two Toe Tuesday: The Most Beautiful Socks in the Room

Stripe Socks So Far

And when they're on the street, depending on the street, I bet they are definitely in the top three. *

These are the Summer Sky Socks, in Vesper striping yarn, and they're coming along nicely even though I'm using size 0 needles. I knit about an inch while in line for the iPhone, the rest has been in bits and pieces. The only issue I have is that they are a little roomy, but the pattern is a 5-stitch repeat so the minimum increment between sizes is 10 stitches, and I thought that 60 stitches would be too small. I'm not really willing to go to a size 00 on socks, so I'll make do. I love the stripes!!

* See this video if you're not sure what I'm talking about. And no, the Smooshy Socks are not in the room--they're in my sock drawer.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Where They Pour Coca Cola Just Like Vintage Wine

I'm about 25% into the 42 inches of lace stripes on my Wino Juno, and have been tracking my progress by day so that I can actually see that what I've knit is adding up. It's easy with a long stretch of a single pattern to feel like I'm knitting forever but not making any progress, and this was a suggestion I read on the Ravelry forums. I put a split stitch marker around the center stitch before starting for the day, and here's how it looks:

Juno By Day 2

From Bottom to Top:

Tuesday: I got a lot done at Knit Night, and knit for maybe an hour or so afterwards as well. I'm not quite sure how I made so much progress in one night!

Wednesday: On Wednesday, I knit after work for awhile, but I also worked on a new lace washcloth, and didn't make a ton of progress. However, I got in some extra knitting thanks to a 3:30am visit from the police, who had been called by a neighbor when he saw someone trying to steal my car radio. They failed to take the radio, but did get an old crappy iPod that won't hold a charge. There wasn't any damage to the car (I hadn't locked it), but I did make a number of mistakes on the shawl between 3:30am and 4:30am. Note to self: stockinette or garter stitch ONLY when the police come in the middle of the night.

Thursday: Progress seriously hindered by having to fix the errors made on Wednesday. No ripping was required, but I had to drop down several rows in several places--ripping might have been faster!

Friday: Moderate progress made. I spent most of the evening alternating between loading songs onto another iPod for the car and knitting. Radio thieves, if you are reading this, note that I am not leaving this iPod (or the faceplate of the radio) in the car overnight anymore!!!!

Saturday: Saturday's not technically over, but this is what I knit while waiting in line for an iPhone for 3.5 hours. It's not all I knit--I also worked on a pair of socks and finished the lace washcloth I started last week.

As an aside, I'm excited about the iPhone, especially since my old phone is over three years old and has been increasingly unreliable. I'm not pleased with the buying experience, however. The people at the Apple store were very nice, but I think that the company should have been better prepared in any number of ways. For instance, the website and voicemail information for the store said that they would open at 10am (vs. the early opening yesterday), but they really opened at 8am. So instead of getting their early, I got there late. I'm not sure it would have made a difference in my waiting time, but I would have spent less time worrying that they would run out, and it wouldn't have felt like I wasted the whole day. From what I could see, Apple doesn't particular care about whether it's customers have a good buying experience, and I really hope that they are treating their store employees (who have to deal with the frustration for very, very long days) better than they are treating their customers. I should have just waited, I suppose!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Fair Isle Followup Friday

I've lost a little momentum since the Fair Isle workshop, in that I haven't finished posting about the workshop or worked on my swatch since the last post. Let's try and remedy that, shall we?

I have purchased and wound balls of the yarns I used in the workshop, in preparation for a lot of swatching:

Shetland Wools

Pretty, aren't they?

Here are some additional references / posts about the workshop:

Janine's post about the workshop (including many swatches)
Ann's post about the workshop (including her great motif swatch, and a link that leads to a vest I'd like to knit)
Janine's post about Speed Swatching

Now, on to what we learned on the third day of class: Sweater Design and Steeks

Day One and Two involved a lot of information, combined with getting up very early to drive out to the workshop, and staying up late to swatch or think about swatching. By Sunday morning, I felt so far away from designing an actual sweater (in the sense of measurement, shaping, etc.), that I probably only absorbed about 10% of the technical piece that Janine presented. Fortunately, her handouts are very detailed, and when (if) I get to the point where I'm ready to start a sweater, I'll be able to refer back to them. What was more meaningful for me was to hear her talk about the pattern design choices she made (not to be confused with the color or motif design choices) in order to end up with a well-fitting sweater. She talked about how she used different types of shaping to avoid problems like poor fitting shoulders, and under-sleeve bulk. Also important was to think about how the motif falls on the garment, to avoid the dreaded "headlights" effect!

The technique that we practiced in class was knitting and then cutting a steek. This is a technique that I'm particularly interested in, first of all because it is terrifying, and secondly because I am a huge fan of cardigans and knitting in the round. We knit a small sample using worsted weight wool, and learned how to increase and decrease in pattern on either side. It makes perfect sense, but still required a fair amount of effort to wrap my brain around. We crocheted on either side of the steek, and then cut. It was amazing!

Here's my swatch after crocheting, but before cutting:

Steek - Post Crochet, Pre Cut

And here it is after cutting, both from the front and from the back:

Steek post cut - back and front

Cool, huh? The cut ends just wrap themselves under in the neatest way. We didn't "finish" the cast on and cast off edges before cutting, so there is some raveling there, otherwise the ends are almost entirely invisible. It will definitely be more challenging to crochet a steek on a full sweater knit with fingering yarn, but I do feel prepared--and I can always knit up a swatch to practice on!

Next steps for me and Fair Isle

It's pretty straightforward: Keep swatching, and keep learning more. There are so many incredible fair isle projects out there, and I've really only scratched the surface. It will be a challenge to settle on a design and knit something from it. I'd be surprised if I started a sweater anytime soon, but maybe a smaller project like a pillow or a hat would be a good jumping off place. There's also plenty to be learned from knitting someone else's design, or adapting new colors to someone else's design. Now to get swatching!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Two Toe Tuesday: Would You Believe a Finished Pair?


I started these Smooshy Socks back in March, and I can't believe that it's taken so long to finish them. I love the yarn (Dream in Color Smooshy on Ravelry in Dusky Aurora) and the pattern (Eyelet Rib Toe-Up Socks by Wendy Johnson), but I was working on a lot of other projects during that time. I wasn't necessarily finishing many projects, but I was working on a lot of them! I'm hoping that all of that incremental work is going to add up to a number of quickly finished projects sometime soon--but don't hold your breath.

These socks travelled with me to Spring Training, to a work conference in Leavenworth, WA, and all over the Seattle area, but they didn't go with me on my trip to Europe, so they took at least a full month off during that time. I'm very pleased with the way they turned out. The fit is great, and I love the color of the yarn. There are probably some areas where I reversed the decreases (did K2tog instead of SSK, & vice-versa), but they don't stand out at all. The biggest problem I had was the bind-off, which was too tight and had to be picked out and re-worked. I ended up using the version that Grumperina describes here, and it worked like a charm. Let's just hope they are tight enough to stay up, because I hate a slouchy sock.

The finished socks weigh about 87 grams, and I have about 30 grams of yarn left. I don't imagine that I could have made the socks much longer than they are without adding some sort of calf shaping, which I wasn't going to do. I know that the photo above doesn't show how tall they are--here's another shot where you can see how high the socks come up (about an inch higher than dachshund height), as well as my stunningly tanned legs:


Frieda was completely uncooperative when I tried to include her in the photo--she refused to look at the camera in any of the 12 photos that I took. I suppose that it is her job to watch the backyard for cats, not pander to the camera or flaunt her natural good looks. Very annoying for me, though--especially since she'll try and fight these socks if she sees me putting them on!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Old Dog, Meet New Tricks

Rainbow Crochet Swatch

Because the screaming colors of my Summer Sky Socks aren't quite over the top enough, I present to you my first ever crocheted swatch. Mom and I took a "Crochet 101" class at Renaissance Yarns today, and the swatch above represents three hours of work. It's about four inches square, and I think that it looks pretty good if you ignore the too-tight foundation chain and some possible errors at the edges. Fortunately, the pooling and bright colors are very distracting. It was a good, basic class, which fits my skill level perfectly and builds a foundation for a couple of crochet projects I've been looking at. Creepy Cute, here I come! O.K., maybe I'd better practice a little more first--but Ninjas and Corporate Zombies (Rav Links) are very close to being within my grasp. Mwahhahahaha!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight

Summer Sky Socks

I once again have a slew of projects that require a pattern or chart, and nothing much that I can just carry around and knit when I'm stopped at the railroad tracks. The answer to this is a new sock project, just in time for the July Sockdown! on Ravelry. Given that I've been in total color overload since last weekend, it's either very surprising or not surprising at all that I pulled one of the brightest yarns ever out of my stash. Behold, the vivacity of the self striping Vesper Sock Yarn in Summer Sky! The photo on the left shows my first toe, which ended up being too wide and was ripped out. The photo on the right shows the new, narrower sock (complimented nicely by the Blue Moon) out on the town earlier in the week. In real life, the sock is brighter. And less blurry than in the bar photo. Srsly.

The pattern is the 5-stitch Beaded Rib pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks. The toe is the "easy toe", which I started with 12 stitches and have increased up to 70 stitches total. This pattern requires a divisible-by-10 number of stitches, and I really think that the best number of stitches for my gauge/feet is between 60 and 70, so we'll see how this goes. I do like the look of the beaded rib, and it's easy enough to remember now that I can read the pattern on the sock.

Toe number 2 is on the needles, and I hope to have the two of them united on a single needle before the end of the evening. Then I'll be able to work on them wherever I am, at least until it's time to think about the heels!

I'm So American That I Ate Apple Pie For Breakfast

4th of July, 2008

Hope you had a good 4th! Mine consisted of Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie, and explosives. How can it get better than that?