Saturday, March 28, 2009

You Probably Didn't Think that I was This Classy


Remember that birthday yarn binge I mentioned? The worst of it involved getting very, very Classy. I ordered blue Dream in Color's Classy from the Loopy Ewe for a February Lady Sweater on the Friday before my birthday, knowing full well that I wouldn't have it in time for the weekend. Since I stayed in the city overnight, on Sunday morning I went to a few Seattle yarn stores that I don't get to frequently enough, and ended up with another sweater's worth of Classy at the Fiber Gallery. I swatched on Sunday, and started Laura Chau's Lucy in the Sky cardigan the next day. I really like the way it looks so far, and love the feel of the yarn. Like Smooshy, it's sock-weight counterpart, this yarn is very smooshy and springy. The fronts, back, and button bands are worked at the same time, so the rows are really really long and the progress feels slow, but it will be really nice not to have a lot of seams to deal with at the end. I love the seed stitch borders, and I like that there isn't any pesky waist shaping in this sweater. I've been trying to alternate between this and the Green Chill sleeves, and yesterday I worked on the Blue Birthday socks and Blue Sea Socks in addition to both sweaters, but really it's the Black Diamond that's getting the bulk of my attention.

The yarn for the February Lady sweater arrived later in the week, and it's really pretty. The color is Midnight Derby, which is a dark, purpley blue. It's a little less dark that I expected, but that's probably because there's so much variation between batches of this yarn. Here's how it looks:

Pretty! But now sealed in a space bag in the garage, along with a lot of other yarn, in an effort to get the sewing room under control. This should also keep me from casting on a new sweater when I've got another one barely started and one very close to completion. I'm completely cool with 2009 being the year of the sweater, but I'd rather that it didn't turn into (another) year of starting and then abandoning sweaters.

Sock Summit News

Just as I was seriously considering signing up for another sock yarn club, the new Sock Summit website went up. Class listings, prices, and some non-class event info is up, and it's really going to be an incredible event. There isn't enough info yet to select classes and slot them into my own schedule, but it's enough to do some bare-bones planning & budgeting. Budget item #1: stop buying yarn until registration in May. You don't need it. That goes for patterns that you don't need immediately to start a project, too.* Budget item #2: watch other discretionary spending, too. It can't hurt.

Sock Book News

Cookie A's new book Sock Innovation arrived in the mail on Friday. It's really great--the first section talks about how she designs, and there are a ton of patterns. You can preview (and then immediately queue) the patterns in the book on Ravelry. The first pattern I'm going to knit is Kai-Mei, and I set aside this yarn for it yesterday when I was vaccuum packing yarn. Cookie is teaching at Sock Summit, and her class is high on my priority list. Although I should admit that right now the list is very non-hierarchical--it's basically just "classes I want to take" and "classes that I've already taken or that involve spinning".

Time to get cracking--I want to do more work in the sewing room, because I had an idea yesterday for a new project bag that I'd like to prototype!

* exclusions apply, particularly if I get really stressed out. Wollmeise is always a free pass, as is yarn purchased with my Christmas gift card from Renaissance, and yarn that I've already committed to purchase (final Sundara seasons shipment, and next Loopy sock club).

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hey Man I'm Making Moves

March 21, 2009

Clockwise from top left: Birthday sock start, Young Fresh Fellows, My Birthday Book, Robyn Hitchcock & Peter Buck

How can it be Thursday already? Then again, I thought it Thursday on Tuesday, so maybe it's Thursday all week this week. Do I sound existential? Do I sound like I'm just making stuff up? I think that it's due to the heavy influence of the Robyn Hitchcock show I went to on my birthday. I'm hoping that L____ DID go home and write down some of the things he said in between songs, because there was so much of it that it has all vanished. I attended the show with two friends (E__ and L____) who I've known for about 25 years each, and we were seated at a table that sat up against the stage. How great is that? Great show, great time, great birthday.

E___ put together the book above with pages from a dozen or so friends, some featuring photos that I definitely don't remember seeing before. Or being in. Some of the photos are from several years' worth of Christmas parties from the 90's, where I look a lot better than I remember looking. And my hair isn't big or crazy, so I could conceivably pass off those photos as being from the modern age (as long as there's never any real life comparison). There's also a photo from college featuring Dennis Miller where he looks like he's about 18 years old, even though he would have been in his late 30s at the time. Seriously, the photo has two men and eleven women, and I was racking my brain to figure out whose boyfriend that would have been. I'm so lucky to have all of these memories in one place (especially the memories I'd completely forgotten), and I really appreciate all the effort E__ took in getting this together and that my friend put into making pages. Plus, my Cookie Monster mug-shot-style photo on the cover could not be more perfect. I sure wore a lot of fancy makeup that Halloween!

There was also some knitting--I started a new pair of socks on my birthday, in The YoYo CashSport String (same as Hulk Smash) from the Loopy Ewe. The pattern is Duckies (Rav Link) by Samantha Hayes. It's super straightforward, although I'm thinking about doing a different heel so now I'm stuck here:


Let the record show that I've been stuck here since Sunday due to other projects that will have to wait until another day. Suffice to say that there was a LOT more yarn purchased in the days around my birthday, and some of it is gettin' knit up now. Poor Green Chill's sleeves are jealous, though I've been working on those a bit too.


Hey Man I'm Making Moves: "Future 40's" by Syd Straw. A beautifully depressing song that feels more fitting today than when it was first recorded, it in no way reflects my feelings about my birthday or my knitting. I just picked it 'cause it's got "40" in the title, and because I've been thinking about Syd Straw lately.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Down on the Main Spring Listen to the Tick-Tock

Green Sleeves

The Green Chill sweater is coming along so quickly that I haven't had time to write a series of repetitive "I've got three more inches now!" style posts--the first front was done on Monday (I started it before the Spring Training trip), the second front was done on Wednesday, and the sleeves are well underway. I'm knitting both sleeves at once so that the increases will go on the same row for sure--for some reason, I wasn't worried enough about the fronts to do both at once, probably because there's not a lot of shaping to keep straight.

I'm hoping to get this finished before it gets too warm for a wool cardigan (though this may not happen for months yet), and before I start another new sweater. This project has come along so well that starting a new sweater feels imminent--even though it would make more sense to go back to sweaters that are already started.

The biggest issue that I forsee with finishing this sweater is that I keep mentally picking out buttons for it, even though the pattern calls for a zipper--I may end up adding button bands, or if not I will need to find the right zipper and install it (or have it installed) which could take as much time as it's taken to knit the thing! Opinions, advice? Buttons or Zipper? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Note in the photo above a guest appearance by the Hulk Smash socks, which I've been wearing around the house all week. They turned up when I was packing for AZ, and as soon as I put them on I ordered more of this yarn (Cashsport String by The Yo Yo from the Loopy Ewe, this time in a pretty light blue) because it's so comfy. I'm hoping that it arrives today--it's my birthday (which one? It ends with a zero, and it's not 30) and if I want to start some birthday socks I will. Startitis has free reign today--I'm hoping it will quash the urge to buy a sweater's worth of yarn when I'm in the big city later today, but I'm not convinced that it will.

Down on the Main Spring Listen to the Tick-Tock: "New Amsterdam", Elvis Costello. This video version is poor quality but hilariously "of it's time" (while the song itself holds up really well)

Friday, March 13, 2009

With the Sky Blue Sky

AZ Photos

Left: A Blue Sock at batting practice, Right: Manny Ramirez in blue shoes

Another hot day today in the greater Phoenix area! We spent the morning at the M's training camp watching the team practice, and I worked a little on a new sock. It's from a sock club, and as you know the first rule about sock clubs is do not talk about sock clubs. I think that it's pretty safe to discuss, but there may be people who don't have their package yet, so I'll hold off on naming the club / pattern / yarn. But isn't it pretty? And close to the M's colors, too.

The main M's squad played in Tucson today, so we went to the new Dodger's training facility instead. It's really nice, and our seats were terrific, but we sat in full sun all day which is a little much for me. One of the highlights was seeing Manny Ramirez get his first hit of Spring Training (this was his first game)--I didn't photograph the actual hit, but the photo above may be from the same at bat. I was eating ice cream during that at bat, so I wasn't paying quite as much attention as I should have.

Tomorrow we head back to Seattle, where it's going to be at least 30 degrees colder than here. Brrrr. . . . it's hard to even imagine that after sitting in the sun all day!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Here Comes the Sun

Spring Training 2009

clockwise from top left: Ryan Rowland-Smith signing autographs, proof that Summer Sky Socks are done, Griffey takes a look, Goth Socks

Having a great time in AZ, the weather has been perfect (and our seats have been mostly in the shade), the beer has been cold and the food delicious. The baseball? Well, so far we've been to three Mariners blowouts (the M's on the losing end), and one World Baseball Classic exhibition game in which the Korean team was soundly defeated by the Padres. Tomorrow, we're going to see the Dodgers play the Rangers--two teams that I have no real opinion of, so maybe it will be closer?

In knitting news, I did manage to finish the Summer Sky Socks (which have been lingering since last summer) the night before we left. I didn't have a chance to get a good photo at home, so I wore them on the plane and took a photo today at the ball park. They were knit from Vesper sock yarn in Summer Sky, and they were knit toe-up using the beaded rib pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks. They were meant to be finished by the end of August, but when they weren't done they moved into the car-knitting rotation which meant that they were worked on a few stitches at a time. They fit nicely, and I'm glad they are done--I didn't really like using a 5-stitch repeat, for some reason it was hard to get into rhythm with.

I brought the Goth Socks that I started on Oscar night, and have worked a little past the heel. I used the Lucy Neatby garter row heel, and am a little concerned that I didn't write down how many stitches I left unwrapped at the bottom. I want to say it was around 10, but that may not be precise enough to end up with two roughly matching heels. I really like the even stripes that this yarn produces, and I like the solid toe & heel really well. There are other socks that I brought with me to work on, but these are by far the easiest to work on while waiting for the action on the field to start, or while drinking beer in sports bars.

We have a couple more days in AZ, and then it's back to cold Seattle. I wish that I hadn't left my everyday coat in the overhead on the plane, I think I'm going to need it when we get back! That being said, at first I thought that my Spincycle Mitts were in the pocket, and I found them in my bag, so it isn't a big deal that I may not get the 8 year old raggedy jacket back.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Two Toe Tuesday: Winter on Monday, Summer on Tuesday Edition


For the record, the Seattle area doesn't usually have snow in March, but I took this photo this morning. For the other record, it is Monday, even though the title says Two Toe Tuesday. It happens.

I finished the Red Hot Chili socks (pattern: Empoisonnée by Yarnissima, yarn: Wollmeise Sockenwolle 100% superwash) over the weekend, only a week late for the Sock Knitter's Anonymous January challenge. In my book, that's not so bad, but the second sock was a bit of a slog at the end. Underneath the cuffs are 30-ish rows of twisted rib ribbing, which is a bit of a snooze after the enlarging cables that run up the sides. These socks were a lot of fun to knit, and I can assure you that Wollmeise is worth the hype. O.K., it twisted up on itself a bit and I had to periodically unwind it, but these are not a giant sweater--it's easy to untwist. And I've got about 30 grams left from the 150 gram skein--wouldn't this color look good striped with black yarn? I think that I may have some black yarn . . .

The socks feel like they will be very durable, and the pattern is very well put together. Even though the pattern is charted, the cables & construction are straightforward enough that I didn't feel like I was constantly trying to figure out which row I was on and following the chart line by line.

I'm looking forward to starting another pair of socks by this same designer (maybe La Digitessa), but in the meantime I've got to pack for Arizona--we leave tomorrow morning! I'm not a giant fan of the sun & heat, but it's going to be really nice to get away from this snow. By noon tomorrow, I expect to be at the ballpark in Peoria to see the M's face the Cubs. Griffey vs. Pinella--I've got no complaints.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

If That's What You're Into

I'm running around like crazy, trying to finish everything that has to get done before Mom and I leave for Spring Training on Tuesday. You might wonder why I think that I can finish as many as three pair of socks (two of which are really almost done), weeks of work backlog, months of cleaning backlog, and a book about Louis XIV between today and the crack of dawn on Tuesday. You would be right to wonder--that's only the short version of the list, which extends to packing, selecting new knitting projects, collecting the travel info in one place, making gifts for a bunch of babies born in the last 6 months, and spending some quality time with Frieda and Gretel.

One thing that's been on my list for awhile is to mention something that my friend Mara is doing next month. She's riding a leg of the Tour d'Afrique bike tour though Botswana & Namibia as part of the Lonely Planet team. The Tour 'Afrique runs from Cairo to Capetown by bicycle. Yes, bicycle! It's like the Tour de France, but FOUR times longer. I'm both 100% jealous, and 100% incapable of the training she's undertaking. All the flurry and hub-bub that's been killing me over the last couple of weeks pales in comparision to the work she's had to do to prepare for this trip (and in a New England winter, to boot). Go, Mara!

She's also raising money for the Bicycle Empowerment Network (BEN), an organization that repairs bicycles for use by healthcare workers and schools in Namibia.

You can read more about Mara's trip on her website, and if you're interesting in lending your financial support, you can make a donation to the Bicycle Empowerment Network here. I mean, if supporting African development & health care is what you're into.

"If That's What You're Into": Flight of the Conchords, If You're Into It.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Long story short . . .


. . . I didn't run to the finish line on the Red Hot Chili socks on Saturday, so they're closer to being done but still not quite there. I did work on them, but there were other things on the agenda as well, and 45 rows on size 0 needles does take a bit of time.

Somehow, it was easier to work on a project I started a few days ago, Chill by Sarah Dallas, from an old Rowan magazine. I'm using Louet Riverstone Chunky that I bought a month or so ago when Webs sharply discounted it--less than $5 for a 100-gram skein. I was planning to knit this Vine Lace Cardigan with it, but it would have required either a lot of recalculating, or using a gauge that felt too "holey" for this yarn. I've had my eyes peeled for a 14-stiches to 4 inches gauge sweater (and went through hundreds of patterns on Ravelry) before realizing that this sweater would work. It's from Rowan 32, which was published in 2002, so it's not a very "Ravelable" project. There's one other project in process on Ravelry (or maybe it's finished), and mine is the only project with photos. In fact, I only pulled out this magazine after reading about Pearl from the same issue on the Mason-Dixon blog--without that prompting, I might still be looking!

The pattern has an intarsia design option, but the photo that really sold me on it is the plain grey version that Sarah Dallas is wearing in a photo in the magazine. It's cozy, it's got a zipper (which I may replace with button bands, and I've got more than enough yarn for it. So far, it's coming along very well--I'm almost to the armhole shaping on the back.

I know I have a bad track record with finishing things (see aforementioned socks), but I'm feeling pretty good about this sweater. I don't think that I've finished a sweater since before the turn of the century, but if I could just finish and wear one that either fits well or at least doesn't look ridiculously bad, then maybe I'd turn over a new leaf. There are soooooo many inspiring patterns and yarns available now, it seems a shame not to give it a try!