Sunday, September 30, 2007

September's Bounty

This week as I mulled some important life questions I also was facing up to a glitch in my own behavior over the past month. Year upon year (really decade upon decade) of lean times has made me fairly parsimonious, or so I like to think of myself until I come face to face with my alter ego, Miss Sallie Spendthrift.

Now I am a quirky person. I know this and I work with this. I learned early on, having made my own money starting with a paper route at age 11, that I have a bit of problem with spending monomania. Having little money meant that I wouldn't go shopping very often. So when I did the impetus sometimes was from a sense of compulsion, rather than a concrete need. In other words, I am prone to spending binges.

Even as a young girl I knew what to do and that is let it run its course and then pick up the pieces afterwords. So, I'd buy up all sorts of stuff and then the next day, or week, I'd return most, if not all of it. The money was always needed for more practical things like food, basic clothing, et al.

So when I started knitting it was on the cheap and in small amounts, mostly, and then occasionally dotted by binges of suspect bounty. This past month has been a total binge. And though every dime spent came out of my savings account, and is not leveraged with credit, it is still very hard to face because I am not sending these things back. The purchases were all wanted and/or lusted after. So maybe I'm just crying wolf on myself. Maybe I'm just fearing fear itself. Maybe I just have to learn it's okay to go hog wild on yourself. But is it?

In the past month I purchased these books:

Interweave Knitters Companion, Vicki Square
Stephanie Pearl McPhee Casts Off, Yarn Harlot
The Opinionated Knitter, Elizabeth Zimmerman
Last Minute Knitted Gifts, Joelle Hoverson
Knitting Beyond the Edge, Nicky Epstein
Book One: The Viking Knits Collection, Elsebeth Lavold
The Harmony Guides: 220 Aran Stitches and Patterns

The last four I picked up this week alone.

Maybe this is normal for someone becoming obssessed with a hobby. My social exposure is so limited I don't know how to measure myself.

Done done done done done done done done done!

Ahem. These. Are. Done. Did you get that? Done.

As you can plainly see the toes are green. By Friday night, even without the help of the new scale I could tell I was completely wrong in my assessment that I'd have enough yarn to finish off the socks. And hubby unwittingly came to the rescue yesterday morning when he suggested a road trip to help ease us out of last week. Quicker than one could say boo, I was thinking Patternworks!

It was perfect weather for a drive through New Hampshire and perfect timing because I desperately needed some fingering weight sock yarn to complete hubby's socks. And complete hubby's socks was my mission for this weekend. Patternworks did not disappoint and I was so proud of myself to leave with only having spent $60, $10 of which was spent on a sweater rack, so it doesn't count, right?

I had really hoped to buy some Koigu as I have yet to work with this yarn but their selection of greens didn't work for me so I settled for something that really isn't second best at all, some Dalegarn Baby Ull, which I absolutely adore working with. It was a perfect shade and a decent match to the Cherry Tree Hill yarn of the sock.

Last night my suspicions were confirmed when I could weigh the yarn - I'd only have enough for one toe. Too bad, so sad. I finished up with the Dalegarn and did not look back. Well, not exactly. I do feel a bit of failure for not being a perfectionist with these socks, but the fact that they're done is a success in itself. It is. I'll take that and move on up and out.

I'd like to mention one milestones in my knitting career which occurred this summer. These Earth socks were the second pair of socks I finished with the kitchener stitch wherein I did not need to break out the instructions. I finally have it down. That's not to say I wasn't backing tracking (thrice!) last night at 2:00 am as I struggled with a self-imposed deadline of finishing them before I went to bed. Yet I could back track and fix my mistakes no problem. For that I am proud.

Now I've come across a great deal of animosity in the blogoshpere towards what some call the "bitchener" stitch, but I actually like it. I can't be alone, but I haven't yet seen anyone wax poetic over it, and the influx of toe up socks in the blogs I read lead me to believe that anything to escape kitchenering at the end is preferred. But for me, I sure as heck like it 200% more than I like weaving in ends. That I loath. Unfortunately there's no cure in knitting for that. Yet.

Friday, September 28, 2007

This week in knitting socks...

It was a tough week at Chez Yarn and I'm glad it's over. Earlier in the week I was all revved up about testing pattern ideas on the first knitted arm of Blueberry Moon. I'll leave these details for another day. While my ideas germinated I decided to put some effort into my longstanding sock WIPs.

I took the Regia Striped Sock to work one day and wound up unable to stop myself and turned the heel violating my #1 rule of sock knitting (sorry to be a broken record) "do not knit turn a sock heel until you can knit the second heel shortly thereafter." Unfortunately, the knitting was so addicting and well, I was in a bad spot. I needed the fix. What's a knitter to do?

I just love this striping colorway. I may be fooling myself, but I really hope to start the second sock at the same point and have the stripes match. This is my first self-striping sock, so I should be allowed some hubris? Right?

In other sock knitting I've gotta come clean on something. I've hated the following Cherry Hill Tree Earth colorway with a passion up until yesterday.

I love the greens and I love the wines but I absolutely hate them together. I knew as soon as I got this sock yarn home I'd never use it so I devised an ingenious (read: foolhardy or stupid) way to force myself to knit it up. I came to the stout realization that this masculine colorway would make a great pair of hubby socks. Yeah! That's the ticket!

So slowly but surely I've been knitting these up one stitch at a time. Am I a freak to loath something so rabidly? I hope not. It has felt torturous. But ever since I turned the heels yesterday and returned to using size US2s, instead of US1s, I'm not hating it as much. And just in time to realize that one sock's yarn cake is definitely larger than the other's yarn cake. Ooops.

Contrary to the visual evidence the larger yarn cake is the more compact one attached to the sock that is 3/4's done. Using the same analog scale I used to divide the yarn I have about the same amount of yarn in each ball but twice as much knitting left on one sock.

I think each cake will do the job, but for a future of more perfect sock knitting I went out and purchased this little doodad with a 20% off coupon at Bed, Bath, and Beyond:

Of course I don't have a battery for it so it's kinda useless in all it's technological glory.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Blueberry Moon Update

My Blueberry Moon sweater has only received perfunctory attention these past few weeks. The cold snap early last week ignited my interest again. Yesterday it received almost undivided attention and I was able to knit about 200 yards, as well as redo the shoulder seam.

I reduced the number of buttons, expanded the button holes from one stitch to two, and used a 1K2P rib. All day yesterday I mulled over how I could add expanding cables on the bottom half of the sweater using some A-line shaping in the spirit of Vogue's Silver Belle. As soon as I'm done with this ball on the body, I'll start a sleeve to experiment on.

If I had knit as many stitches on my socks last night as I did on this sweater I would have had both hubby's earth socks and the regia silk self striping socks done. Well, not exactly. I realize stockinette stitch on a 36" needle goes a heck of a lot faster than mostly stockinette on three size US1 dpns. My inner castigator, she prefers to believe the former.

At least I got through two of our netflix movies which I never could have properly watched knitting socks.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Where giving out your email pays off!

I am always loath to give out my info to salesclerks. I think they have some nerve asking me my phone number, though I am polite when I say "no thank you" in response. They are just doing the job their corporate employers pay them to do.

But still. Companies have some nerve. If they want my info then they should buy it on the market like they buy everything else about us. Yet, this acrimony aside, I did give my email to a LYS a few weeks ago and I am so happy I did because they sent me an email saying they had gotten the following in stock:

I've been dying to try these so I drove right down and picked up a pair. They only had about five or six sets in varying sizes so I'm glad I didn't wait. They were so overpriced it's a shame. But a little luxury in a woman's life is nothing to shake a stick at. I'm so misshapen I am loathe to purchase clothes and today's styles in shoes leave me buying these in bulk so I'm only left with handbags and knitting to splurge on.

Although they're as flexible and smooth as my bamboos their points are as dull as the size US2 Brittany birch dpns I tried. Unlike the Brittanys, which stick to sock yarn as if they were covered in glue, the Sox Stix worked as well as my pointy Clover bamboos on these stockinette socks.

I'll have to stick with the Clover bamboos for textured socks. You live and learn.

Friday, September 21, 2007

One thing done! Whew.

I definitely needed a quickie project to smooth out the rough edges. Ripley's sweater was finished during lunch yesterday and it looks great on him, if I do say so myself.

The pattern still could use some tweaking, but overall it fits him great. Now back to battling the Firestarter...

Me and Patterns, not so good friends...

As to be expected the Firestarter pattern is a struggle for me. First, there are two sets of directions in the packet. So to better my odds I'm reading both at the same time and going crazy for my effort.

One set of instructions says to CO 30 using the provisional cast on; the second says to make a provisional cast on using a crochet chain the length of a little over half the needed stitches. Literal me reads this and thinks the crochet chain should only have 15 stitches plus a few. And yes, I would be wrong. And wrong in an eventual "it'll be funny how wrong I was" way. Yet this funny wasn't evident to me while I was wracking my brain at the seeming contradiction of the two statements. I was not given any pattern reading DNA. None whatsover. And my laugh at myself gene could use a little bolstering as well.

It seems obvious now that the pattern writer meant half the total stitches needed for the full circumference of the sock. But it wasn't even remotely obvious to me until after I attempted to double the cast on stitches on a 17 stitch crochet chain. But that's me and my pattern reading anxiety.

So, one hurdle met, some humor generated. The next hurdle is the short row toe and I haven't mastered that yet, but after two tries I think I'm on my way. I didn't fully comprehend the idea of the wrap the first time around and so my short row stitches were bare. The second time around I was tired. My toe seams were holey because of the way I knit. I'm going to have to twist the wrap stitches. I also ended up with an uneven toe; there were stitches left on one side of the needle but not the other. I frogged back to the first toe half but I lost some stitches and wraps so I'm gonna have to start from scratch. I don't see any humor in this yet, but I have hope.

There is a definite pattern discrepancy on the toe. One set of directions says to knit the first row then turn, with the following rows incorporating the wrap and turn feature. The second set says to begin the wrap and turn at the end of the first row. After my fruitless attempts I realize that either way will work, but coming to grip with these inconsistencies as I'm learning the pattern is extremely daunting.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Starting Afresh

I've been inspired by the frogging going on over at Chicken Knits. How this actually worked for me is that I decided to abandon the CEY Lush doggie sweater for a new doggie sweater with new yarn I just accidentally picked up explicitly for this purpose.

It couldn't be helped. Aside from today's expected high of 82 degrees, it's been quite chilly. Ripley is in need. I'd be a horrible mother if I didn't keep him warm. And I just happened to need new needles yesterday for the firestarter KAL and was in a LYS. I'd be remiss if I passed over this luscious yarn. Right?

Now the fact is I was also moved by the quickie project focus going on over at dogged. A girl should not be held responsible for blogger peer pressure. Even when she doesn't even know said bloggers, it's still their fault. It is. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

This lovely lovely yarn is fascinating. It goes from roving bulky to sport weight and looks fabulous in cake and knitted form.

I should be done today with this doggie sweater. I improved upon the knit as you go technique of my first two projects by starting at the neckline. And by using a crochet stitch to carry the yarn down the armholes I didn't have to break the yarn at all and will only need to seam the beginning and end yarn in. Now that's a big whoopee in my book.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

My first KAL

I'm really hoping to join Peaknits' sock knit-a-long using Yarnissima's firestarter pattern. All I'm waiting for now is an invite!

Seriously, the Lorna's Shepherd Sock cakes I whipped up this weekend are screaming to be firestarter socks. Who cares if I have two socks on needles presently? Not me.

Not having enough needles was quickly fixed by running out to a LYS at lunch and picking up two sets of US1 dpns. (I know the pattern calls for circ's but I'm sure I'll wind up wanting to use dpns.)

This will be good practice for me to face my pattern fear. Really. Right?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dog Knits

The newest edition to our family, Ripley, our chihuahua terrier mix, came to us in June, shortly after I started this blog. And as the days and nights were cool it became obvious very quickly Ripley would need some hand knits.

I cast on some heathered green Lopi I had lying around and came up with this fly-by-my-seat design which doesn't look half bad. Ripley looks like a little bruiser, doesn't he?

Shortly thereafter I began another off-the-cuff design with a pair of highly discounted Classic Elite Lush skeins I picked up at Patternworks. I've gotten pretty far twice, but my shaping isn't working out. The heat came to squash what little interest I had to refrog and redesign a second time. I'm hoping a post will boost my interest, or at least generate some pressure to get this out of my WIP bin.

The yarn itself is great to work with. It is an Angora/wool blend that doesn't blossom until after you knit it. I thought that was pretty cool.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Socks and Cakes and Changes! Oh my!

I'm feeling just a tad bit corny this afternoon. Can you tell?

I've been mulling over changing the feel of the blog since day one and so it's done. Let's see how long I like it.

I couldn't help but make cakes of the Lorna's Shepherd Sock this weekend, but I did stop short of casting on. I think this colorway will work well with a textured sock, probably another mini cable rib like Jen's xmas socks.

Yet I couldn't resist the pull of starting another pair of socks so I thought the best thing to do was to use the self-striping Regia Silk I picked up at Webs a month and a half ago. A pure stockinette sock is a perfect foil to what I have on the needles right now.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

More on my recent acquisitions

The weather just doesn't seem to want to cooperate, both last weekend and now it's been rainy and dreary. Dreary, I can handle, but rainy interrupts the visual itemization of my stash and FOs I've got going on.

I did get all my yarn photographed before it started drizzling again. And since I finally realized how to use the close up function on the hubby's digital camera I had to take more photos of the latest additions to my yarn stash.

My very first Lorna's hand dyed yarn:

This is Shepherd Sock yarn, 80% superwash wool, 20% nylon, colorway Gold Hill. Each skein is 215 yards.

Madelinetosh hand dyed yarn:

This is a superwash merino in the Violas colorway. The one skein I have is 395 yards.

And finally more Cherry Tree Hill supersock.

The yarn didn't have its tag, but I know this is 100% superwash merino and 420 yards. The colorway name remains unknown to me.

It's taking all of my will not to start knitting one or more of these skeins up. I really fear I might not finish hubby's Earth socks if I do.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Necessary Rewind

Wednesday night I decided on the motif to use for Project Stole's white space and then threw caution to the wind and cast on. I felt such an instant relief to be knitting instead of designing.

Designing is fraught with so much fear that it is a wonder I do it. But I do. I'm still struggling with knowing when to stop and just dive in. Yet when I do stop and start knitting and see the following, all the stress is forgotten in that brief moment.

The Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran yarn is so sumptuous. I know I've gone on and on about this yarn but it is so soft and lofty, and it knits so easily. It shows off the texture of the design as well as I had hoped.

Notice how it's not on needles? Well that length you see represents about 80 yards of yarn and it's less than 3 inches long so I'm gonna have to frog and begin again with less of the modified seed stitch if I'm gonna make a length anywhere near 60 inches.

And the yarn isn't that blue, it's more like the gray shown in the picture of the yarn. The light on this side of the house has an excess of blue tones, especially in the morning hours. No matter how I tweaked the final pictures I couldn't get rid of the baby blueosity.

I'm glad I didn't shy away from this project. Very glad.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday

I am Obsessed with a capital O. I hit the books on Sunday and I found pretty quickly I couldn't get this Embossed Twining Vine Leaf pattern from Barbara Walker's Second Treasury out of my mind.

The past three days have all been about finding a way to incorporate this into a pattern for the stole. It has been either what I have been physically doing or what I have been mentally doing while my body goes about without my full attention. Poor hubby has had to repeat himself over and over again as I can't concentrate enough to listen.

Finally last night I put away the Excel spreadsheets and bound off the above swatch and moved on to the simple joy of stockinette sock knitting:

Once I come to the heel turning, I always begin the second sock. That way I don't mess the whole thing up.

Today I'm back at it again and tonight I'll be home swatching the prospective white space.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Yarn Crawl

Last week I had given up on Project Stole. Or so I thought. I found myself trying to incorporate some variation of Barbara Walker's Embossed Twining Vine Leaf pattern into a sweater design. I did find this Lacy Leaf Pullover by Teva Durham on Ravelry which seems to have the spirit of what I was incoherently envisioning:

Somehow it didn't take. In the back of my mind I was still itching to go to the two LYSes in my region that the Jo Sharp website indicated as suppliers of the Silkwood Aran. And come Saturday I was on the road to Wild and Woolly in Lexington, MA and Yarns in the Farm, in Beverly Farms, MA.

I hit Lexington first, and I was not disappointed by their selection of yarn or books, with the exception that they don't carry the Elsebeth Lavold books, one of which has a sweater pattern I'm dying to imitate. According to Jackie, one of the sales associates, stores have to carry her yarn in order to carry her books. That seems kind of strong-army, don't you think?

Unfortunately they they didn't have the Silkroad Aran colorway I wanted, but they did have a stupendous selection of sock yarn, the best I've seen in my area, and I didn't leave empty handed. I'd like to add that the following represents a great deal of restraint. Really.

Next, I headed up to the North Shore to Yarns in the Farm.

Yarns in the Farm was cuter than cute. It sort of had the set up of a farm stand, with an umbrella table and chairs out front and wide open doors leading inside to a tiny, overstuffed space. And that's about all I could say. I get so agitated going to new places and meeting new people I don't have much facility for taking in much details. It was the size one would expect for a LYS. And though I'm not very spiritual, I felt some kind of tingly when this little store had exactly 15 balls of the Silkroad Aran in the Empire colorway. It was some kind of freaky.

In my nervousness I have no recall of what other yarn they had, though I didn't seem to have any problem grabbing a skein of some Cherry Hill Tree supersock in a colorway very similar to the one used in the Monkey socks which I adored on Miss Furry Terrier's blog. She wasn't fond of it, but it's the cat's meow for me. I love blues and greens!

Cherry Tree Hill yarn should be exempt from the rules of stash busting or yarn diets, is all I'm saying.

So with my car brimming with yarn I went home and made good on my vow to review my stash. In the interest of expediency, I made a post on craigslist to find a local person who'd take it without my needing to mail a thing. I found a taker for all except one grouping. Once the lucky recipient comes to pick it up tomorrow I'll have really only one and a half tubs of yarn. And almost all of it represents active projects or leftover yarn. Almost all...

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Do you smell anything?

I always knew I was full of shitola. Always.

Yes, right there are 13 skeins of Jo Sharp Silkwood Aran in the Empire colorway. The other two skeins are in my knitting basket, as I've already started tampering with them. I just couldn't help myself. And let me add, that's just the tip of my hypocrisy. The tip. I bought three different types of sock yarn. Three.

In my defense I lugged up the entire stash and have put in motion a method of getting rid of the stuff I know I'll never use. The rest I'm going to photograph for Ravelry so that I'll never forget what I have.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Looking for inspiration once again...

With the kinks in Blueberry Moon just about ironed out, I've spent an inordinate amount of time stalling on getting the yarn for the Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran stole project. I tried to get to Wild and Woolly in Lexington, MA, which is listed as a retailer of the yarn. I was unsuccessful, they weren't open for the holiday. Pooh.

But that's not the whole of it. I don't think any LYS is going to have 15 balls of the color I want, and I know an online retailer will. So why am I dragging my feet? I think I've finally acknowledged to myself that I'm not ready for a 1,500 yard cable project, especially since the yarn is going to cost over $100. I feel a strong pressure to use up the yarn I purchased this summer before moving on to new projects.

Unlike most knitters I actually hate to stash yarn. I feel prisoner to all the unused yarn I've purchased in the past and never used. My stash is like a proverbial leaded ball and chain. So I've turned my attention to the stash of Cascade 220 Superwash I purchased at WEBS this summer. It's a beautiful, tweedy moss green.

And I've already swatched it up.

Last night I knit up some ideas garnered from one of the Barbara Walker stitchionaries I have signed out from the library. All except the last, a leaf pattern, were given up as undesirable, but I ran out of time last night to finalize anything. This morning I went through the sweater pattern section on Ravelry. I found some great sweaters but no project to match the feeling of this yarn.

Ravelry is a great resource for this. It was great to see how other knitters interpreted patterns, including the Jemima pattern by My Fashionable Life that inspired my Blueberry Moon design.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Trying something new

I had knit beyond the shoulder seam on my Blueberry Moon sweater project by the end of last week.

Before going any further I wanted to knit up the shoulder seam. If I was going to have to frog, I didn't want have to frog more than necessary. So instead of diving right in I took some time to mull over how one does this, since I am winging it.

Sunday night I struggled with the top seam, the one with the buttonholes. Picking up stitches isn't my forte, especially when I have no clue if what I'm doing is going to make sense, much less look acceptable. As soon as I finished the top, buttonhole seam I set it aside.

Yesterday, I picked it up again and immediately realized that I used a k2p2 rib, instead of the p2k1 rib I used on the neckband. Big d'oh. Instead of frogging right then and there I decided to plow ahead with the rest of the shoulder seam and consider the result a test drive, a draft run. This is how it came out.

Not bad, considering. I'm thinking four buttons may be too much. I will probably use only three and make the seam wider. And I love these buttons. I picked them with the yarn at WEBS. It took me twice as long to pick out the buttons as it took to choose the yarn!

Sunday, September 2, 2007


The cabled shrug project has definitely taken hold. So much so I put the labor in Labor Day this weekend, I wrapped up two outstanding projects, my Rowan Cashsoft Shawl and my burgundy cable afghan. Yipee!

Both projects were begun with a great deal more enthusiasm than was present as I finished them up yesterday. I loved how quick the afghan worked up using two strands of the Paton's Classic Merino yarn. The stitch definition looked far more cohesive than I originally thought. It will look good with the Armoire quilt I purchased for the soon-to-be renovated guest bedroom.

The Rowan Cashsoft Baby DK yarn I used for my first shawl is a beautiful yarn but it was difficult to work with on the bamboo needles I prefer. As I have discussed in a previous post once I put the project on the lone pair of addi turbo needles I own I quickly found it much easier to work with. It is a gorgeous yarn, and supposedly machine washable, but I'll probably never use it again. So glad this is done.

Now I'll have more time to work on what has morphed into a cabled stole. Double yipee!

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