Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dry Faster!


It's finished! Just needs to dry--it's blocked out larger than I expected, but it looks really good! The end have been woven in, I'll just need to clip the final ends (and keep it away from dachshunds), and then it's totally done. Woo-hoo!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Two Toes Tuesday: Seriously? You're Still on the Cuffs?

Kai-Mei - Northern Lights

Yes, I'm still on the cuffs. Yes, they are for a KAL that ends later this week. Yes, I am going to start a new pair of socks for a different KAL on May 1. You want to make something of it? I suggest you register your complaints with the Garter Stitch Shawl, which I am going to wrap up this week if it kills me.

My new goal is to finish these in time to wear to Cookie A.'s class at Renaissance Yarns in late June. This being the Pacific Northwest, it's pretty likely that I can wear wool socks in June, at least during the morning class. I just need a little more knitting time to get everything done!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Looking So Long at These Pictures of You

April 26, 2009

The garter shawl is coming along, I'm now on the edging. Although the edging is meant to be "lightly" ruffled, the number of stitches is doubled in the first row so it's taking twice as long to knit each row now. I opted for a brown border because there are brown flecks in the blue tweed, and because I will probably need more than two skeins of the black alpaca I bought for the shawl for a nice-sized border. I have five or six skeins of the brown that I bought a long time ago for a project that didn't work out (Rav link to it), so that should be more than enough--I'll probably knit this for a few more days, and then cast off.

Since there are so many stitches, it's tough to make this look all that interesting in photos. I'm using a long cord, but not long enough to get a really good look at the shawl. I thought that the addition of a dachshund to the mix would improve the situation, but as you can see above, Frieda was only marginally helpful when photographing, and Gretel refused to get involved. Frieda looked everywhere except at the camera no matter how many times I called her name or whistled. Until the shot on the bottom right, that is, where she's lunging for a treat. I say "treat", but really it's just a single piece of kibble--she's not allowed to have treats anymore, since developing pancreatitis in the fall. It's tricky to get a photo while trying to hold the kibble just out of reach of a jumping dachshund, so I'm not sure I can say that photo is any more successful than the "I'm ignoring you" photos.

Once I picked everything up, and just pretended to have a treat? Perfect, immediate attention:


Friday, April 24, 2009

I Can See For Miles and Miles and Miles and Miles

April 24, 2009

Miles and miles of garter stitch, that is! I'm on my third (and final) ball of Felted Tweed, and I'm surprised how quickly this is progressing. I'm still mildly interested in it, too, which is a little surprising given that it's nothing but garter stitch with increases every other row.

The color is a little baffling to me. I took the two photos here a few minute apart. The top photo is outside, in a sort of shady spot. The top photo is inside, and to me is a much better representation of the color of the shawl. Weird, huh?

I should make progress on this over the weekend, but there are a few other knitted goods that I'd like to get back to. I finally picked up a zipper for the Green Chill (though I may have lost it already), and buttons for the Cables Baby. Plus, I haven't worked on Black Diamond all week, and it needs a turn too!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

They Have a Fight, Triangle Wins

Garter Triangle

New Project? Of course it's a new project! On Friday, I received a request for a knitted item for my local collage alumnae group for an upcoming potluck / raffle. Did I mention that it's in mid-May? I'm going to give it a try, though I reserve the right to ditch at the last minute and sew a lap quilt (a fast lap quilt) instead. It's a simple garter stitch triangle shawl, using Rowan Felted Tweed for the main part and probably some sport-weight alpaca for the edging. The pattern is based on the Wool Peddler's Shawl by Cheryl Oberle (Rav Link), but I'm using the mods in this incredibly gorgeous version. I'm stretching that link across four words because it's really, really worth checking out. I was led to that version by this version, which I also love--but I don't think that I want to take the time off from work that would be necessary to get it done in a month. The raffle proceeds may not cover the cost of the yarn, after all--no need to get too crazy and use up my vacation time.

It's coming along fine for now, and it looks pretty good. The rows are not yet so long that they are a drag to sit through, although that day is certainly coming. I did mysteriously purl a stitch in the middle of a row a little while ago, but it's fixed now. I bought black yarn to use as the edging, but once I brought it home I realized that I have the same yarn in a brown that would also match some of the slubs in the blue tweed. I'm still leaning towards the black, but I have a feeling that by the time I get to that point I may just pick the closest ball of fun fur and end it. Sophisticated, yes?

Monday, April 20, 2009

If You're Feeling Sinister


Looks a little like I've dissected it, doesn't it? Hopefully, the sides will come out fairly straight (rather than pointed). A second square is on the needles--I'm going to try and finish five of them.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Loop It Up

April 19, 2009-1

I had a request on a Ravelry board for photos showing how I was pulling out the loop for my Barn Raising square (it's for a Doctors Without Borders fundraiser, see here for details) and I thought it might be good to post here, too. My needle has a light blue cable, which is a little hard to see.

Here's the rundown:

Top Row, Left: No loop--needles are in the middle of the right vertical side. This is the beginning of the round (within a stitch or two), because the first marker is the red circle. The other markers are yellow or green hearts.

Top Row, Right: I'm pointing at the mid point of the left vertical side. This is where I'm going to pull out the loop. It's not important that the loop is exactly halfway, I didn't count or anything.

Bottom Row, Left: I'm pulling out the loop, without making a hard crease in the cable or stretching out the stitches too much.

Bottom Row, Right: Once the loop is pulled out, scrunch up the stitches onto each needle. With the work facing you, pull the left needle out far enough so that you can start knitting the stitches on the right needle. If you have too many stitches, or don't scrunch them up enough, they will catch on the join and you will have to push them up again. If your cable is long enough, you can pull out another loop (divide the stitches roughly into thirds). I tried this for awhile with this squre, but my needle is really too short for that so I've gone back to one loop and it's been fine.

I'm on the last round of this square, and I've started another square on dpns so I can jump right into another one!

Espresso is Good

Double Espresso w/foam

There hasn't been a lot of knitting this weekend, or at least not a lot of interesting knitting. Mom and I went to the Mariner's game on Friday (Ichiro Bobblehead night!), and the game was too exciting to knit at. Yesterday I had a few other things going on, and although I started a new project that I'm sort of excited about, there's not enough of it yet to bother photographing. Maybe later today, since the weather is nice! The most exciting thing this weekend, though, is that I bought an espresso machine. Not a super fancy, price-of-a-used-car machine, just an entry level home model. I'm still figuring out how to make the best coffee ever, but the results have been pretty delicious so far. I've tried Illy grounds, and Starbucks pods. The pods are 100% reliable and super convenient. The grounds are a little more difficult, but I think will be worth the extra effort so that I can brew two shots at a time. If anyone has some coffee brand suggestions, leave it in the comments!

In other food news, I would like to present . . . .

A Tale of Two Sandwiches

Given my poor dietary habits and my sheer laziness when it comes to cooking, I really don't feel like I have a leg to stand on regarding the blogging of food topics. However, this weekend I've experienced two sandwiches that stand on the polar ends of acceptable restaurant food.

Sandwich #1: The first sandwich was the biggest culinary disappointment I've had at Safeco Field ever. Worse than paying $8.75 for a beer, worse than a day-old reheated corndog, worse than ice-cold fries. The name of this disappointment? The BBQ Pork sandwich.

A little background: at Safeco Field, you can download software for your Nintendo DS that lets you look up stats, follow other games, see video replay, and order food to your seat. Ordering food to your seat is a great feature if you're stuck in the middle of the row, or if the lines are really super long. The main reason I've ordered from the Nintendo in the past, though, is because it offered a pork sandwich that is only available in the Bullpen Pub, which is three full levels and half-way around the park from our seats. This sandwich is terrific--it's got slices of bbq pork with chipotle mayo topped with coleslaw on an onion Kaiser roll. It's a huge sandwich, so Mom and I can split it and still feel like we had a meal. It's arguably the best food item in the ballpark, and it's the sandwich pictured on the Nintendo DS menu.

On Friday, when I ordered the pork sandwich from the DS, what arrived was a small, microwave heated roll with a few slices of overcooked pork drowning in a really boring bbq sauce. Really bad--completely not delicious, totally not worth even 1/3 of the cost. And although this disappointment was assuaged by the M's 5th inning comeback, I have a creeping fear that the most delicious sandwich at the ballpark may not even be available at the Bullpen Pub anymore, and that I'll have to spend all season trying to find foods to carry into the park instead of eating the same (delicious) hot dog all the time.

Sandwich #2: On Saturday, I went to the Fiber Gallery's Anniversary Sale, and I had planned to stop by Red Mill Burgers for lunch. When I drove by, though, the place was crammed full and there were maybe 15 people out on the sidewalk, so I decided to try a place across the street from the Fiber Gallery called Picnic. The menu was small and simple, and I ordered a ham and cheese sandwich to go. This is a $9 sandwich, and when they handed it over to me I thought that I might have made another sandwich mistake because it had no heft to it. It felt like maybe there was no filling to this sandwich. I was totally wrong--this sandwich was perfect. The bread was crusty and flaky without being chewy, the ham and cheese were perfectly proportioned, the only condiment that I could detect was dijon mustard, which is the only condiment that this sandwich needed. There was no flavor-diluting lettuce, anemic winter tomatoes or other unnecessary ingredients. If Picnic was on my way to Safeco Field, I would take this sandwich with me to the games, and never even miss the pork sandwich. Next time I might not eat it in my black-upholstered car while wearing a black shirt, but maybe I still would.

Just to bring this non-food blog back to yarn, I did pick up new yarn yesterday although my plan was to not buy any more until I'd paid for Sock Summit. There are only so many things I can resist, though--I've passed by the Webs sale, and the Jimmy Bean's Wool sale, and a couple of sock clubs that I really think I'd enjoy. Anyway, in the spirit of full disclosure, I bought a sweater's worth of Classy at the Fiber Gallery's sale (20% off!) because the more I knit with it, the more I like it. Then on the way home, I stopped at Renaissance Yarns and picked up yarn for the new project I started last night (which I'll likely blog about tomorrow). Let's hope that I can straighten out all of my knitting problems sooner rather than later, so I can make some stuff (rather than just knit the same thing over and over, fixing mistakes).

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Barnraising square

Now that's more like it! And it'd much easier to knit this way than the spirally way--but maybe that's just because I'd had all of that DPN practice with the first square. I haven't used DPNs for anything in a long time. The yarn is a ball of Koigu that I bought at Madrona this year, and then I decided that I didn't like it for the project I had planned for it. I think that it will make a good square, and will blend in with a lot of different colors. I may make a few in this yarn, but I've also got one or two other bits of leftover sock yarn I can dip into . . .

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Where is My Mind? Where is My Mind?

Larissa over at Stitch Marker is organizing a Barn Raising blanket fundraiser for Sock Summit 2009, and what with my inability to knit patterns I thought that starting a square might be just within my grasp this evening. How wrong I was:


It's a lovely pinwheel, but it's not going to look good when combined with the strong, straight diagonals of the other squares. Fortunately, this isn't really that much knitting, so I'll just start over and try to follow the pattern this time. It's really not a hard thing to do--I just winged it a little.

If you're planning to attend Sock Summit (or will just be there in spirit) and are interested in contributing a square or two, the full details are here. The pattern for the square is in Larissa's book Knitalong (which I highly recommend, and not just because my skull meathead is in it), but there's also a link to it from her blog post.

Where is My Mind? Where is My Mind?: The Pixies, "Where is My Mind"

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I Can't Believe They're 6 and 2

Mariner's Home Opener, 2009

The M's home opener was great--really good game, great crowd, sunny (but freezing cold) weather. The only downside? I'm exhausted and will have a looooooooooooong day at work tomorrow to make up for taking the afternoon off. Totally worth it. But I need to go to sleep now.

What's in the photos? All L to Right (though I'm sure you could have figured that out yourself). I've shuffled them up, they aren't in chronological order.

Top Row: Ichiro is introduced, Sunny Safeco Sign on the third level, Griffey is introduced
Middle Row: Grounds crew dance, the only knitting I can be trusted with these days (3 x 3 rib, the second Northern Lights cuff), Opening day painted on the field
Bottom Row: Victory!!!!, Felix is introduced, Griffey's first at bat (this was a strike--I didn't get a good photo of the hit).

My favorite photo was from my iPhone, which was otherwise totally useless at the game:


I don't know what the problem was (other than a large crowd), but for most of the game I didn't have phone service or internet connectivity. I'm sure that my Facebook friends were disappointed not to receive updates on my status every five minutes (i.e. "Griffey got a hit!" and "What a corndog!") while they were at work. Plus, the constant search for service meant that my battery drained in only a few hours. Booooooooo, AT&T wireless.

The next game for us on Friday, it's Ichiro bobblehead night. Free toy = Maximum Value!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Note Would Say "When It Rains It Snows"

A friend came over on Sunday to watch the M's game (Hi, V____!), and while the game was good, the knitting was not. I was feeling all virtuous because on Saturday I finished seaming the Cables Baby sweater and fixed & finished the Green Chill sleeves. I even wove in the ends and lightly pressed the pieces of the Green Chill. And although I thought about starting a new project, I decided instead to carry on with knits already in progress.

Here's how the day went: I'd start knitting, then look down and see a mistake. So I'd put that project aside, knit for a little while on the ribbing for the Northern Lights socks, get bored, then pick up another project and start the cycle all over again. Note that with each of these mistakes were made the mistake recently, not all in a single day--I even picked up a pair of socks that I haven't worked on in a couple of weeks, with the same result. Here's a pictoral review of the carnage:

Purple Graffiti Cables

Cable Wrong

Started last weekend in DK weight yarn, the Purple Graffiti Cables seemed to be coming along quickly for 2 at a time socks. I wanted to NOT be tied to a notebook or sheet of paper while knitting, so I tried marking the cable row and then counting up from it. Bad idea--there's an extra row before the cable crossing. I will likely pull these off the needle and rib, as tinking back cables is not my idea of a good time and it should be fairly easy to get these back on the needles. That being said, if I find out that the first cable crossing was early (instead of the second one being late), I'm going to knit to the shorter length or rip out the whole sock and put the yarn away.

Blue Sea Socks

Blue Sea Mistakes

Next up-the Blue Sea Socks from the first Loopy Ewe Sock Club shipment. These haven't received much airtime because it took some time to decide what I wanted to do with the heel. I've opted to do the gusset increases on the bottom of the sock ala this pattern (PDF link) from Wendy Johnson (whose new book should be in my hands later this week). However, those increase are coming out now since I repeated some rows there at the top. The cable turns instead of waving. The loss will be about six rows, which isn't really so bad, but I'm not sure why I screwed this up because I can't even remember when I last worked on it.

Black Diamond

Black Diamond Mistakes

Lest you think that all of my knitting issues involve cables, behold a simple knit/purl mixup. Or two of them. In the larger circle, you can see that I missed a purl on the left side, so there's a break in the diamond pattern. Evidently, I put it a few stitches over. This is a pretty simple fix (akin to the problem with the Green Chill on Saturday), just ladder down and back up. In fact, it took just a couple of minutes, and then I noticed the problem in the top circle, which isn't clearly visible. Two purls on top of one another, so again off pattern, but again an easy fix.

Maybe a new project, something extra extra simple, isn't such a bad idea. Or maybe I should stick to weaving in ends and sewing buttons on the Cables Baby sweater? How much more damage can I do?

The Note Would Say "When It Rains It Snows": They Might Be Giants, "When It Rains it Snows"

Saturday, April 11, 2009

When I'm Two Rows From Casting Off . . . .

. . . this is not what I want to see:


About 10 rows down, stockinette instead of garter--hard to see close up, but from a foot away it would be obvious to even the least observant, non-knitter among us. Time to take out the crochet hook.

I Just Got Lost

It's amazing what kind of forgotten works-in-progress I've stumbled across while cleaning up and looking for bag ingredients in the sewing room. There are a couple of cardigans that are so old that I never logged them in Ravelry. One needs to be ripped out (there's only a few inches knit, with a couple of full-row pattern errors). The other is so old that the yarn was discontinued in 2004. If you're like me, and that sounds like it wasn't so long ago, it was FIVE years ago, and since I bought the yarn in Cambridge, it's likely much older. If only I could find the pattern or my notes, I could think about working on this again. I think that the Rowan book that the pattern is from may be in Somerville, and there's a high likelihood that I also have misplaced a skein of yarn. Yikes.

Anyway, among the really old stuff, I found a project that needs so little work to finish that I'm embarassed that I haven't really worked on it since the fall. It's the Cables Baby sweater, using Socks That Rock Mediumweight in Nyame & Stephanie Pearl McPhee's lovely Baby Yours pattern. Here's how it looks:


Somehow, when I even remembered that I was making this sweater, I thought that there was more left to knit. I thought that it needed another button band, or i-cord edging (which would involve learning), or something other than just seams. But seams and a light pressing is really all that's left. So maybe I should get on that, instead of just blogging about it?

Also, solved is the mystery of the missing darning needles--I've been looking for the Chibi in the photo for quite awhile. It was with the sweater that needed sewing up. Makes perfect sense!

I'm going to try and wrap this up this weekend (if I say it here, it must be true, right?). I've been feeling some burst of "finishitis" lately. Spring Cleaning, and all.

I Just Got Lost: "Lost" by Coldplay. Oh, Coldplay, why did your G/A seats at the Gorge have to sell out so quickly?

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Quick Update: Goth Socks

Gothsocks - sock 1

An update so quick that I didn't have time to "sharpen" my slightly fuzzy photo! The first plain Gothsock that I started on Oscar night has been finished for a week or so and toe #2 is almost done. If all goes according to plan, this will be teed up as the new plain, boring knitting right when the Northern Lights sock goes from boring rib to interesting lace panel.

I really love the stripes--I would definitely use this yarn (Gothsocks) again.. The black is surprisingly black, and the stripes are nice and crisp. I am also really glad that I used plain black yarn for the heel, toe, and ribbing. Once I weave the ends in (and they aren't bunched up around my toes), these socks are going to be super comfortable, thanks to the cushy garter stitch toe and heel. Now if only I had written down how many stitches I short-rowed to on the heel and toe, I'd be in really good shape!

Still working away on a ton of other projects, and thinking about the final design of the project bags I've been talking about. It turns out that the talking is the easy part--the sewing is going to take more actual labor!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Two Toe Tuesday: Are You Freaking Kidding Me Right Now?


Another day, another bag, another pair of socks. That's right, I am not freaking kidding right now, I did start a new pair of socks on Sunday. I had to do an authentic product test--one using socks knit two at a time from two balls of yarn. So far, so good--I mean, I took the photo moments after finishing the bag, I did the actual knitting from the first bag. This bag is a little bit bigger, with a pocket on the front instead of decorative applique. The pocket is more useful, but more important to keep centered and even and whatnot. And I think that I prefer the smaller size, but maybe I just like the bright handle and buttons better. I am taking all three bags with me to knitting tonight, for some knitter's feedback!

The socks? Oh, yes, the socks. The pattern is the 2/2/2 Right Ribbed Cable Socks (Rav Link) from the Little Box of Socks. The yarn is Duet DeKay in the "Courage in Grafitti" colorway. I'm not sure it was the best choice for this pattern, the cables may be totally lost in the color. I'm willing to chance it, though--I really like the colors. I hope that the cables look o.k., because even though knitting two socks at once is great, there's nothing worse than ripping two socks at once.

Monday, April 06, 2009

To See the Frog Eat the Goggle-Eye Bee

April 05, 2009

Clockwise from top left: Frieda can't keep her eyes open for this photo, Frieda with bag, Sweater sized bag, sock sized bag

Despite the dull, steady headache associated with staying out super late and getting up super early (the rock show on Saturday night was totally worth it, but I have no photographs), Sunday was a pretty productive day. A friend is planning to have a booth at Sock Summit in August, and I've been trying to come up with a sock project bag that she could sell. This is a proposition with a lot of "ifs", in my mind--if I can make more than one or two, if she does have a booth, if I will more than break even on the deal, etc. Then there's the obvious "will anyone buy this" question, of course.

I can sew pretty well, but my quality threshhold for things that I make for myself is decidedly lower than my quality threshhold for things that I would buy, and that's a contradiction that may mean trouble. Producing multiples of something that is sewn well enough that I would buy it myself may suck the joy right out of the creative process for me. Also, I think that my design idea is pretty good, but I've been mentally overcomplicating it and even my simple attempts today have some issues.

My basic idea is a bag that will keep two balls of yarn from tangling (as in two socks at once, or colorwork socks), but will let me remove the yarn without cutting it, and will hold the project and the yarn. No velcro, no zippers--I maintain that these are the enemy of yarn, just as mohair yarn is the enemy of my skin. I've decided to try button closures, so that the yarn can thread out the sides, but will tuck into the center & be buttoned up. Future enhancements (the part that I'm overcomplicating mentally) include inner dividers, pockets, etc., but I'm trying to remind myself that this is just a project bag--it's not a purse, or a full-on knitting bag, or a means to create world peace. Two balls of yarn, with room for one or two socks. That's it.

The prototype bag is made of denim with a little stretch that I had lying around, embellished with some Japanese frog canvas & a couple of scraps. I didn't line the bag, but am still on the fence about that--it's a balance between excess weight and better finishing. I zigzagged the raw edges so there won't be any fraying, but lining would still look neater. Also, I put in the buttonholes before sewing the side seam, and it would look neater to sew the side seams first and then turn the top edge down and put in the buttonholes (assuming that I could still mark the buttonhole positions straight). The embellishment took a long time--too long, really. A cute pocket (maybe big enough to hold a pattern) might be a better use of the space.

So what do I like about the bag? The craftsmanship is reasonably good, and I think that the size will work well (but I might make it slightly wider). I like the clutch-style handle, and I like the look of the different buttons. Denim is super durable, so needles shouldn't poke through. It will stand up (though is a little floppy) when empty, which means that if loaded properly it will stand up when full.

The only project I'm working on now that uses two balls of yarn is the Black Diamond (look at how big it's getting!), and this bag will hold two 100g balls of classy but not the yarn and the sweater. So why not sew a larger version of the bag? On the larger bag, I put two handles to the top of the bag, and a mermaid pocket on the front. Wider opening = 5 buttons, which I was too lazy to dig out and sew on before calling it a day. I'm not sure I'd want to make many of these, it takes longer and a lot more fabric, and getting the pocket square is tricky. If you could see it closer, you would notice that--trust me.

So now that I've made a couple of bags, I suppose I need to test them out--I have this fear of the yarn getting all tangled up on the buttons, and the only way to put that fear to rest is to knit a little!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

I Forgot to Mention Yesterday

Kai Mei

. . . that I couldn't hold out past April 1 on starting a new pair of socks from Sock Innovation. What can I say? I am weak. The pattern is Kai-Mei (Rav Link), and the yarn is Sundara Sock in Aurora Borealis. I've grown disenchanted with the Sundara buying experience (stalking the site, buying blind, and then selling what I don't love is too time, energy, and $$ intensive for me right now), but this skein is soooo beautiful. Since this pattern starts with a ton of 3 x 3 rib, it's perfectly portable--all of my other "mistake-proof" socks are at heels or toes or bind offs that I can't work on at train crossings or drive-thrus. The yarn is dark, though, so it's not that good for knitting in bars (though I could probably manage it, if forced to spend time in bars . . . that's soooo unlike me)!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Green Green Rocky Road


I've been trying to think of a way to make knitting these sleeves sound or look interesting, but even Frieda isn't all that interested in them. I've been working on a lot of other projects in the meantime, but have been trying to get through a minimum of four rows (that's one set of increases) per day. It's paying off--I'm only a couple of increases away from the widest part of the sleeve, and then I can stop counting rows until the sleeve is long enough. These should fly by after that, and then it will be time to make the final zipper vs. button band decision and finish this puppy off. That's when it will get interesting again, I suppose.

The spring cleaning that I semi-started last weekend in the sewing room continues. I realized this week that my car is unacceptably dirty on the inside, and that I need to do more work in the sewing room before I start messing it up with new projects. Oh, but you know how I love new projects . . .