Monday, August 31, 2009

Mini Mitten Monday: Put to Work by a Four Year Old


I babysat a 4 year old last Saturday. Just playing with her wasn't enough--she really wanted new mittens for her doll E___, which is on loan from her mother. E___ has one mitten, shown on the right above, but it's probably more than 30 years old and has a hole on the other side. Plus, there's only one, so in 4-year-old perspective, it's really no good. I think that the lack of a second mitten is actually worse to her than the giant hole!

So as we watched Snoopy Come Home, I took a close look at the original mitten, and set out to make a replica. The original mitten appears to have been knitted flat, and then seamed. I think that the thumb may have just been stuck on at the end, but I'm not totally sure. It's been awhile since I took a crack at a mini mitten, and this mitten needed to be a bit larger than the ornament mittens I've made. I just used the original as a guide and took a crack at it, and I think it looks pretty close to the original (but knit in the round). The thumb is essentially a 5-stitch icord, which was also pretty easy. One mitten down, one more to go!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Can You Hear Her Blacks Crackle and Drag

August 30, 2009

I've made some good progress on Damson since last Thursday, and was hoping to be able to show off the sparkles in the Starry, as well as the way the shawl is taking shape. When I tried to spread it out, though, it looks a little crazy--either the top looks weirdly rectangular (I'm NOT knitting a sailor collar!), or the fabric buckles and curls. Architectural, yes--but not exactly saying much about how this will eventually look! And the sparkles are only visible if you really squint at them--I think I need a special effects camera, that will turn them into disco stars or something.

So I refer you to the original, as well as some really pretty versions here (Rav Link) and here and here (Rav Link). In looking these up, I notice that this is now the most popular new pattern on Ravelry. No surprise--easy instructions, uses just one skein of sock yarn (who doesn't have some of that?), and is a really cute twist on a standard triangle shawl.

"Can You Hear Her Blacks Crackle and Drag": Paul Westerburg, Crackle and Drag.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Stitch N Pitch Recap

Stitch N Pitch

So I have only a few complaints about Stitch N Pitch at Safeco Field tonight:
  1. I was way too exhausted from a very long week to really look at all of the booths.
  2. I was starving when I got to the park, and ate a cheeseburger that was much too much food for me, so then I felt even more like taking a nap.
  3. The Mariners lost 8-4
Mom & E__ and I sat in what I am calling "baseball seats" rather than "knitting seats" because I find it really hard to watch the game from the top of the third deck in left field. Had I known that there wasn't much of a game to watch (except for the KC fans out there), I might have revisited this decision. I think that the Mariners should really consider expanding the Stitch n Pitch section to include some closer in seats as well as the very top deck. Look at the photo above, taken in the first or maybe second inning. See all of those open seats out there? Except for the SnP seats, which were very full, there were wide open stretches of seats all over the stands. Mix the knitters in, people! No need to keep them separate, in the oxygen tank seats!

I ran into a bunch of folks that I don't see often (though I saw most of them at Sock Summit), and I finally gave away the Cables Baby sweater! For once, I was prepared, and I think that the baby will be able to wear the sweater in the right season!

As I mentioned above, I didn't really have the energy to jump into the crowds and do much shopping. I only picked up a really, really cute pattern for a Tofu the Gentle Dachshund (Rav Link, available in Rebecca Danger's Etsy shop). I think it would be nice to make some Friedas and Gretels, provided that the real Frieda and Gretel keep their stinky paws off my knitting.

I worked a bit on the Yarrow socks, but I'm getting close to starting the toe and wasn't prepared to go in the direction yet, so I brought along a new project. It's Damson (Rav Link), by Ysolda Teague, and I'm knitting it in Dream in Color Starry, in Black Pearl. It's a little hard to see the sparkles against the beer-and-ballfield, but they are there. I think that this is going to be another very popular Ysolda pattern--it's only been out for a few weeks, and there are 166 underway. I saw a very pretty green version at Stitch n Pitch, and it made me wish that I was using a color with more variation. Which I suppose I could, but I think that black with sparkles will be great for all of those formalwear occasions I attend (in my imagination).

Ack! It's really to late to be up blogging, I've got one more long day ahead of me (and another baseball game tomorrow night--go M's!) before a relaxing weekend of more work, more summer fun, and hopefully a little more sleep.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sock Summit Recap: Sunday

Sock Summit Sunday

The only photo I took at Sock Summit on Sunday was the blurry photo of the Luminary Panel above, but it was actually a pretty jam-packed day, featuring the following:

The Perfect Rib with Cookie A: Cookie A talked about how to make sure that a complicated sock leg pattern flows right into the ribbing. This is something that I admire about her patterns--it's so easy to just slap a 1 x 1 or 2 x 2 rib at the top of a sock and call it done, but the extra effort she takes with the ribbing really adds a little something extra to her designs. This was a one-hour wonder, so it was pretty quick, but she showed us a lot of examples and explained the basics in a way that will be totally usable.

Turkish Stitches with Anna Zilboorg: I could listen to Anna Zilboorg talk about knitting all day long. I didn't have all day long (this was another one-hour class), so it's likely I'll have to follow up by reading her book Knitting for Anarchists. The way she talked about the Turkish patterns made me want to swatch up a bunch of them, in order to really understand the ideas. Maybe someday I'll get my hands on her Turkish sock book Fancy Feet, too (maybe it will be reissued, like Magnificent Mittens, which I have pre-ordered).

The Luminary Panel: The Luminary Panel was pretty interesting, but I was a little bit relieved that E____ had a flight to catch and we had to leave early, even though it meant missing the cake. I felt that it could have benefitted from shorter responses from panelists, although that group struck me as pretty tough to wrangle. I heard a lot of stuff that I found totally uninteresting (how tough it is to be a woman--snoozeville) & a little uncomfortable (why so many white people here?), but I also heard some awesome stuff (Nancy Bush examing kilt hose at Scottish Country Dances). Maybe it was my expectations that were the problem, and I should have expected the panel to go off on tangents, but also I was pretty wiped out by then with a really long drive back ahead of me. I'm not sorry I went to the panel, I just wasn't sorry at all to leave early.

One great thing about the Luminary Panel (and the Sunday classes, now that I think about it), is that I had a lot of time to work on a pair of socks that I started just before Sock Summit so that I'd have something simple to knit. That's the sock, in the photos above (all taken AFTER Sock Summit). I was just done with the top ribbing when we arrived in Portland, and I was close to the heel when I got home. It's the Yarrow Ribbed Sock (Rav Link) from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks. The yarn is Soft Touch Heather Shelridge Farm in Fury. I've adjusted the pattern to be man-sized (no, brother K_____, they aren't for you) and am using a French heel instead of a German heel. They are going to be a great pair of socks, and they are perfect for baseball knitting. As an aside, I wish that I had known that Shelridge Farm would be at Sock Summit, because in the months leading up to Sock Summit, I ordered a LOT of yarn from them (maybe 14 skeins), and I could have avoided the shipping costs. I love this yarn, it's the perfect solid sock yarn and comes in a lot of regular and heathered colors. The socks feel really sturdy, and the yarn is very "wooly". It took a ton of willpower not to go into their Sock Summit booth, and now I'm a little sorry I didn't.

Also in the photo is one of the drawstring bags that I made for Liberty's booth, of which I sold alarmingly few. I don't think I sold a single button-top bag, either. It was a little disappointing, but not a big deal or totally unexpected--after all, I have no brand, and there were a million other bags available all over the place. Now I've got a bunch of Christmas presents (or Christmas bazaar items) already done, so that's not so bad.

So, I think that this wraps it up for my Sock Summit reporting. I really had a great time, and it's made me want to go to Meg Swansen's Knitting Camp, and generally to get more knitting done. As in DONE, not started--I spent most of my knitting time this weekend working on three projects that I haven't though about much at all this summer. They're not much further along, but it feels good to know that I'm working on them again!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

We Interrupt the Sock Summit posts . . .

Demetri Martin

. . . to say that even from the last row of the balcony (this photo is at max zoom), view partially obscured by tall person in front of me, Demetri Martin's show at the Moore Theater was really, really fun. And funny.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sock Summit Recap: Saturday

Sock Summit Saturday

Why, yes, it is taking me an alarmingly long time to finish posting about Sock Summit. And yes, the longer I wait, the tougher it is to comment intellegently. So, Saturday . . . what happened Saturday?? I took a full day class with Anne Hanson on Sock Design, and I do have a few photos to prove it. See above--I cast on the toe in the morning, and towards the end of day I had several inches foot! Anne's designs are so beautiful and complex, and (like Marjan Hammink) it's hard to believe that she's only been publishing patterns for a few years. I really wish that I'd sucked it up an finished my Bee Fields shawl to wear to class (and not just because the classroom was chilly in the morning).

This is the class that I was swatching patterns for, and even though I didn't really have as many as I'd liked, I did settle on a design that is starting to take shape. I'm knitting the top of the foot in twisted rib, with a lacy bud pattern from a Japanenese stitch dictionary moving across the top of the foot. During class, we talked about different ways handle designs, what types of patterns look good in which types of yarns, and a bunch of other useful stuff that I didn't write down but that I hope I will remember on an as-needed basis.

I sort of like the way my sock is turning out, but I think that the way the pattern runs into the ribs as it moves across the foot looks a little sloppy. Maybe if I'd framed the bud pattern with a couple of plain knit stitches it would look neater? I think that I need to work a little more of it before I veer from the plan. I went back to the hotel after class and worked on it a little longer, but haven't worked on it since, in favor of mindless knitting that I'll talk about in the Sunday wrap-up. Here's the sock toe as it stands now:


I can't help but think that I'd like the sock more if I LOVED the yarn, which I don't. The yarn is o.k., but I picked it more for stitch visibility and because there were 3 skeins available than because it's a color that inspires me. That's definitely something that I heard from both Anne and Marjan--the yarn and the pattern are really closely entwined for their designs. They have worked collaboratively with dyers to come up with a yarn that suits the design (or even more the inspiration for the design). This medium brown doesn't really say "Lacy Bud" to me, but it's not a bad yarn to work out some kinks with!

On Saturday evening, I went to the Ravelry Meetup for awhile, and met a few new folks who I recognized from online. The main event, though was drinks at the Kennedy School with my college friend B______ and E______, and then sweet, sweet, slumber. I remember when B____ and I used to be able to tear it up--rock shows 'til 2am, then out and about until later. I'm convinced I could still do that, if it wasn't for work and dachshunds interfering . . . .

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sock Summit Recap: Friday

Sock Summit!

I am sorry to say that I don't have any photos from my Friday class, "Respectfully Ignoring the Rules" with Marjan Hammink. It was tough getting up and out the door on Friday morning after all of the excitement of Thursday (probably combined with leftover fatigue from the heat / lack of sleep the week before the summit). It took a lot of energy to focus on the class, and there was none leftover for photography! I did really enjoy the class. I'm amazed at Marjan's designs, and learning more about her design process was also amazing. It's hard for me to believe that it's been only a few years since she started her business, and it was also inspiring to see her sample socks in person. I've knit her Empoisonnée socks and have her Kiila socks in progress, and I've got a several others in kits or in my queue. And now there will be more, and I want to start them all immediately (if I wasn't still so tired from Sock Summit, and from catching up at work & home).

The rest of Friday is (like much of the weekend) a blur. Right after class came the World Record attempt, and as circular knitting wasn't allowed, I started knitting this:

World Record Coaster

A simple coaster, using the same pattern as I used here, but with larger needles. I finished it during class on Saturday, and used it immediately even though the ends aren't woven in yet. I think that it's a nice reminder of the Summit, something small but useful.

After lunch on Friday was the author book signing, and the lines were super long. One of my goals during this sock summit was to not waste a lot of time standing in line, and this plan worked out well for me here. I waited until the very end of the signing, and had the four books above signed in less than 15 minutes. However, there was a downside--there were a few of books that I wasn't able to get signed, one because the author had already left, and another one or two because I'd left the book in my room and didn't have time to run back for it. That's the risk I ran, though, and I'd still do it again!

The top photo is ALL of the yarn I bought during the summit, not just the yarn I bought on Friday. I more or less kept to my budget, and ended up with some fabulous yarns from a variety of vendors, and I don't feel overwhelmed by the volume, so I'm pretty happy. For full details on the yarns above, check this link (my Ravelry stash, filtered for the socksummit tag). I was also able to meet the "no excessive line standing" while purchasing--since I spent a lot of time in the marketplace, I just went back later to places that had lines. I spent more on non-yarn purchases than I'd planned--a pair of clogs (tax-free!), and two sets of Signature double points. Yes, two sets.

On Friday evening, E___ and I met up with my college friend B_____ & her daughter for delicious Mexican food and even more delicious gelato. Exhaustion, complete!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sock Summit Recap: Thursday

Sock Summit - Aug 6, 2009

I'm back from Sock Summit, and I'm super tired. Seriously--I got at least 7 hours of sleep last night, had a relatively easy day at work, but had to nap through the first five innings of the Mariner's game (at home, not at the park). I had a really, really great time, and I'm certain not to do it justice, but I'll try to post the day-by-day recap over the next several days, even though Thursday is already really fuzzy to me.

First up, in the upper left are Meg Swanson and Amy Detjen, who taught my Elizabeth Zimmerman Moccasin Sock class. This was a class I manage to snag during the lottery, and although I'm not sure I see a lot of these socks in my future, this class was terrific. The amount of knowledge that Meg and Amy shared that was not even remotely related to the moccasins as we all knit away was well worth the price of admission. I'm not much of a sweater knitter (or finisher), I'm not a really flexible or reactive knitter, but I've got a strong urge to go to Knitting Camp.

I had a little trouble with my actual sock, in that I didn't bring extra knitpicks cables and when it would have been easiest to switch to a longer cable, the screw end of that cable was faulty. Although maybe I didn't try hard enough, because I think that I had used that cable with those tips before. It was a struggle to knit with the shorter cable, so after class was over I didn't make any more progress over the weekend. Anyway, now that I'm home, I can use another cable and hopefully pick up where I left off, and pretend I'm just hanging around with Meg and Amy while I knit. One of the wholly unrelated to class things that I learned was that Schoolhouse Press is reissuing (in English) the twisted stitch books in a single volume, and that they will be out SOON. I've ordered my copy--I'm so excited to find out how I've been screwing these patterns up by not knowing English!!!! I'm serious!!!

My friend E____ came out from Boston for Sock Summit, which made it extra fun. We were roommates for y-e-a-r-s when I lived there, and I taught her to knit by making her teach herself from Vogue Knitting's big reference book. I did agree to answer questions after she'd studied it, but I felt that forcing her to fend for herself proved that she was serious about learning (and she was). On Thursday, she took Knitting Vintage Socks with Nancy Bush, and said it was great--she made a really beautiful gusset (no hole!) on her in-class sock.

E___ and I didn't get tickets to the Opening Ceremonies, but I did check out the silent auction on my way back to the hotel, and one of my Barn Raising Squares is right there on the edge of the auctioned blanket! What a thrill--it's the purple/yellow/brown square! I think that there was a lottery for another blanket or two, but somehow I missed it completely, so I'm not sure what happened to the green square I made. You can ask E_____, or L_____, or E_____, or T_____--I was a (more than a) little bit insane during various parts of the weekend, so it's not surprising that I'd miss it. It started when we arrived at the hotel and saw Anne Hanson and Cookie A sitting outside on a bench, and just rolled forward from there.

The last photo (assuming you're reading clockwise from upper left) was taken at Voodoo Donuts in an after-dinner donut run. I selected the orange donut. It was covered in Tang, which made it, well, tang-y. It was delicious, and hilarious, and the perfect thing to eat at the end of a really, really long day.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

A Gigantic Nuclear Furnace

Drawstring Bags for Sock Summit

The gigantic nuclear furnace that has been wielding it's power over the Seattle area in the last week has lightened up a bit. It's only 83 degrees in the house right now, and it's been cooling down at night, so it's bearable and I'm back to sewing bags for Sock Summit. I've outsourced my buttonhole problem to a professional, and while I wait for those to come back I've started on some drawstring bags. With a little help (thanks, Mom!), I think that I can get 15-20 of these done by the time I have to leave on Wednesday, without having to call in sick or take any of those stay-awake drugs. And since I just found someone to watch the dogs while I'm away (my original sitter fell through), I won't have to make service dog vests (fake) for them and say that they are for my social backwardsness disorder (probably real).

Now I just need to finish every knitting project I've ever started, clean up the house, and pack, and I'll be all set!