Friday, November 30, 2007

Meme Poach

I've been wasting considerable time reading doggedknit's archive and found a meme I kinda like, so I am poaching it.

4 jobs you have had in your life
MASSPIRG door-to-door donations campaigner
Assistant Property Manager
Data Analyst

4 movies you could watch over and over
The Village
Garden State
Million Dollar Baby

4 places you have lived*
The Adirondacks, NY
The Bronx, NY, NY
Long Island, NY
Boston, MA

*I don't get around much, do I?

4 TV shows you love to watch
Battlestar Galactica
The Closer
CSI: Las Vegas

4 places you have been on vacation
San Diego, CA
Key West, FL
Toronto, CA
Wells, ME

4 websites you visit daily*
Crazy Aunt Purl
and you know what else

*I don't visit any website daily, but if I'm on the web I read these sites

4 of your favorite foods
hamburger and french fries
texas style BBQ baby back ribs
new york style cheesecake

4 places you would rather be right now
anyplace in the British Isles
anyplace in the British Isles

4 bloggers you'd like to complete this meme
I'm so not comfortable with this part of the meme. However, Shannon over at Minerva Turkey tagged me once, so I should return the favor.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Maths? We don't need no stinkin' maths!

Math is not my worst subject. Really. But it didn't look that way two nights ago when I was about to start the second cake of yarn for the body of my EZ yoke sweater. Before starting the new yarn cake I thought I should catch up on my notetaking for the project. I did a (re)count of the # of stitches on my needle. My first count, 396 stitches. My second count, 396. My intended count, 300. I cast on over 96 extra stitches. 96. Extra. Stitches. How is that possible?

All this has to go bye bye. Wah!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I finished my first Firestarter sock in the Madelinetosh yarn about two weeks ago. I'm not impressed with the yarn, neither the wool nor the colorway. The latter is entitled Violas but a much better name would be Watermelon don't you think?

When the colors pool in the toe and in a small portion of the heel the colors look solid and vibrant. When the pinks and tans pool in the main sections of the sock the inconsistencies of the hand painted yarn scream out. I'm blaming this bleh feeling about the yarn on why it took so long to cast on for sock #2, which I finally did last night.

Yet my unhappiness with the colorway will probably change. I surmise this because I really disliked the colorway of my Sweet Tarts socks as I knit them up. So much so I felt no one else would like them either and so I kept them rather than give them away. Now they are my F.A.V.O.R.I.T.E. socks in the world. Imagine that.

The very garishness I hated as I knit transformed into a source of love when I put them on my feet to wear. I was completely unaware that I love garishly colored socks more than I love non-garishly colored socks until that defining moment. If that miraculous transformation could occur, I'm hoping my dissatisfaction with these socks will evaporate once I'm done knitting.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

November reflections

It's been a rollercoaster month at work. My perceptions on things have shifted so dramatically I was left winded, and more than a pinch wounded. I'm still trying to get my bearings. I count myself lucky I drive to work since for the six years I walked I found it impossible to give myself an adequate pep talk without arousing notice. In the hermetic atmosphere of one's car much is possible and a little pep talk every few days did wonders.

But more than a little self love was needed overall and before I could stop myself I found myself awake on Thanksgiving at 4:30 in the morning and winding the last three skeins of my Socks that Rock stash. That small bit of communion with my stash did wonders, I was fortified for days.

As I wound the yarn I couldn't help but be conscious all the while of my musings on wound yarn just a couple of weeks ago. Yet, in the end, comfort won out over common sense. Who could blame me? Eh, what's a life if it's not a smidge inconsistent? And I was well rewarded by seeing the multi-colored skeins transformed into confections:

STR Seal Rock

STR Watermelon Tourmaline

STR Sugar Plum

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Introducing one happy blocker...Me!

I'm not sure if I mentioned this or not but my husband and I scoured Rhinebeck for sock blockers. All we found were vendors selling the teal colored poly variety. I was a bit dejected, but only for a spell since the money set aside for the blockers was soon diverted to a yarn purchase. :-P.

It was only natural that I would have to succumb to the dreaded Internet to find the polished oak type I covet. After seeing countless blog references I headed over to the site of reputed ebay vendor, Chappywoman, and picked up a pair.

They came in the mail Saturday and they are quite lovely. It would be easy to make these haphazardly and sell them but the Chappys do a beautiful job. They are as perfect as you would hope them to be. The vendor even snuck in a little bit of swag in the way of this pretty little stitch holder.

Last week in yarn rescue, or is that knitting weakness?

About two weeks ago I spent a little time reading the discussion over at Ravelry about LYS etiquette on whether it is a store's obligation to wind yarn for customers or not. I totally got the feeling there is an urban east coast/rest of the US divide on this tradition. Another issue surfaced in the discussion and that was whether or not it is appropriate to store wound yarn for any length of time. I think the consensus was that tightly wound yarn cakes may alter the yarn and cause gauge problems when used later down the road; the longer the yarn is in tightly wound cake form, the greater the damage may be.

Well, you see, I'm still a novice ball winder and sometimes my yarn cakes come out a little too tight. The slightest notion that my tightly wound cakes are destroying the beautiful yarn their made of ignited a flame in the quiet little corner of my mind where cast on projects are born. Let me add that this quiet little corner is kept quiet by constant vigilance. Slowly but surely the flame became a fire and the fire became a cause célèbre inferno. I was helpless to stave off the resultant urges to cast on; I was compelled to save my yarn. So the Firestarter I started on Saturday was quickly followed on Sunday by this:

This is a chevron scarf from the Last Minute Knitted Gifts pattern. Within moments of starting the Firestarter sock toe with the Madelinetosh yarn, I was gripped with the inspiration to use the two skeins of Decadent Fibre Marhsmallow that I picked up at Rhinebeck. The yarn is 80% alpaca 20% merino, a little bit different than the fingering weight sock yarn the chevron scarf pattern calls for, but that didn't seem too important.

I fumbled with the pattern at first. I had problems with the increase stitches and then with the gauge. I finally settled on a size US3 for the knit side and a size US5 for the purl side. I'm going to call the scarf The Queen's Forest.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I'm addicted baby, AKA Firestarter Part Three

I can't believe how addicted I am to the Firestarter pattern. Before I knew it I cast on for a second pair Saturday using the Madelinetosh Sock yarn I had stashed for the Last Minute Knitted Gifts Chevron Scarf.

I've never used this yarn before and did not anticipate it being designed to have the pinks and greens pool separately, with the the evergreen and lime striping as they pool. So before I had knit enough rows to see the pattern emerge I tried to nip it in the bud with some stitch increases, three on each side of the sock. After about 15 or so rows it was obvious the pooling was intended, so I frogged back to remove the increases.

I can't help myself, I just have to brag that I haven't looked at the pattern once since starting this second pair. On the other hand maybe I shoud be embarrased at the pattern details being burnt into my memory as it is a testament to how much diffulty I had the first time around. La!

Either way, I'm enjoying knitting this sock, especially since this pair of socks will be the first in a while for which I am the intended recipient, not the default recipient as a result of things not going as planned.

Although I prefer to knit socks using three dpns, I was tickled pink that I have been able to use one of three sets of KA bamboo circs I picked up this summer on the gusset of the sock, as the three dpn method is awkward with this section of the pattern. I had tried the US2 KAs on the Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock version of the Firestarters, but quickly abandoned them in favor of a pair of plastic Susan Bates because the metal joins caught the yarn at every opportunity. I thought all three were a wash until I tried the US1s on this sock. The yarn, though splitty, glides easily over the joins as I've employed Cat Bordhi's 2 circ method.

As an aside, this picture was one of the first I took with my fly-by-my-pants light tent I made butchering a how-to I found online. The tent itself is passable, but the lighting needs a great deal of improvement since I still had to adjust the color properties of the final picture. Still, I'm a learnin'.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Have stockinette, will travel

It's been on my mind for some time that the lack of stockinette in my knitting diet has left me a wee bit high strung. I really need the comfort and mindlessness of stockinette in my life and fast. To this end, right after finishing my Firestarters last week I cast on my first EZ yoke sweater.

Ever since I started knitting top-down sweaters years ago it's been in my mind to try it the other way up and my recent acquisition of some Elizabeth Zimmerman titles has given me a bit of courage to finally try it out. It didn't take long to fall in love with EPS (Elizabeth's percentage system.) Already I think I'll have some modifying to do, but I love the simplicity and the no nonsense approach EZ has to knitting.

I've even taken to knitting while I walk the dogs in the afternoon. I can knit about six to 10 rows on a walk.

It dawned on me right quick that I'd finish up the sleeves too fast if I knit these at home and while walking so I cast on the main body to work on at home. After about 4 rows, or 1200 stitches, I realized that my work was twisted and had to frog and start from scratch. Argh!

Notes on the EZ yoke so far: Yarn is Cascade 220 superwash in a richly nuanced heather green. Check out the tones in this yarn, but please ignore the white fluff and bumpy M1:

After some deliberation and review of different swatches I decided to knit using a normal gauge, instead of the looser, floppier gauge to which I'm prone. I used a size US3 for the ribbing on the wrist and a size US5 the main body, body ribbing, and main arm.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

More than you really ever wanted to know about...

Just the other day, when I was outside photographing my Firestarter socks to no end, I finally had the opportunity to get a snapshot of Ripley in the sweater I knit on the Rhinebeck road trip.


The tight knit means it is a great outdoor sweater since it's snugness will reduce the amount of snagging that is bound to occur when he goes traipsing off into the woods.

The good news, I now have photographic proof of my effort for all posterity. The bad news, just a few hours later this sweater, knit in the most luscious malabrigo merino yarn, was transformed into this:

Can you see that wide black scorch mark? It's a desecration and of my own making. I nuked it in the microwave with a cotton bandanna. Who knew cotton bandanna's combust in the microwave? Well you can thank a crazy knitter in the blogosphere for clearing up that little housekeeping mystery.

You may be wondering to yourself why someone would nuke a knitted item. Really, I have a good excuse but before I get to it, a little back story, if I may.

The hubby and I were blessed to find a perfect little cape house in an almost rural little corner of the dense suburbs ringing Boston just a little over a year ago. Up the block from us the houses sit right on top of each other, but down our end we have undeveloped land in front of us and conservation land in back of us. It was exactly what we were looking for.

Within a week of us moving in we had visits from the local wild turkeys and a small herd of deer. We were enthralled. But along with the beautiful idyll that undeveloped land bestows comes a nasty nasty nasty nasty little creature of mother nature, the deer tick. And with the deer tick and deer comes Lyme disease.

With a year in the house under my belt, I am becoming well-versed in it's life cycle and am finally accustomed to the strain it puts on my pocketbook in Lyme disease treatment for one cat this year, Lyme disease booster shots for the dogs, and don't forget those pricey applications of Frontline for 2 dogs and 2 cats that I need to do monthly.

It is a constant battle to keep the ticks out of the house because even though there is a great deal we can do for the animals to prevent Lyme disease there is very little we can do to prevent Lyme disease in my husband and I. The best defense is a good offense, so they say, so you'll understand that after inspecting Ripley's sweater and Atreyu's bandanna the other night I thought a quick nuke would kill any ticks missed.

The bandanna was a complete loss, but I'm hoping Ripley can still wear this sweater. In the eyes of T.S. Garp, I may even consider it pre-disastered, right?

I'm a Firestarter Baby!

Oh yes oh yes oh yes oh yes, my Firestarter socks are finished! After struggling so miserably, and inelegantly, I might add, with the syntax of the pattern, I am very excited to present this fabulous FO.


I absolutely love this colorway from Socks That Rock. Very American southwest, which is perfect because that is where they will spend the rest of their days, or so I expect. I hope to send them off to my sister as a belated birthday gift (her b'day was yesterday!)


I started out with two skeins of Lorna's Laces in the Gold Hill colorway. I abandoned the Lorna's Laces midway. I next tried Socks That Rock in the medium weight Jonagold colorway.

Initially, with the Lorna's Laces, I knitted up the first toe on size US1/2.25mm bamboo and rosewood dpns. I found working the traveling stitches in the confines of the toe daunting with the blunt edges of my dpns so I started a second sock using size US2/2.75 bamboo dpns. After finishing the toe I used Cat Bordhi's two circular needle technique up to the start of the gusset wherein I returned to using the bamboo dpns.

I found that I had to keep my gauge very loose in order to use the circular needle technique and I wasn't that happy with the end product. With that, and some frustration over the directions for turning the heel, I decided a complete restart was what I needed to get reinvigorated with the project.

For the final, STR version I used US2/2.75mm bamboo dpns for most of the project until the pattern instructed a size up for shaping for the lower calf. I didn't have size 3.00mm needles so I used US3/3.25mm.

Firestarter by Yarnissima
The pattern is not difficult, as I love cabling, or traveling stitches, as they are called in the pattern, and am familiar with short rows, and sock architecture in general. Understanding the pattern as it was written, however, was difficult and taxed my patience enormously. That is where the Firestarter KAL really came in handy. A big thanks to Peaknit for setting it up and managing it! Once I got through all the ups and downs in knitting the first sock, I breezed through the second in no time.

I did make some modifications to the pattern to account for the smaller foot size and the heavier weight of the yarn. Instead of a 60 stitch sock/30 stitch CO, I knit a 48 stitch sock/24 stich CO. I had to reduce the number of coin cables in order to start the gusset. I knit three coin cables instead of five. My gusset was 18 stitches wide, I can't remember if that was in line with the pattern.

Once I finished the heel/gusset reattachment I found the give on the sock to be more than a little unforgiving and decided to expand the ankle significantly. This was done by increasing the leg rib from a 2p1k to a 3p1k in two consecutive rows. I also increased the 1p stitch in between the first twisted k stitch and the coin cable to 2p stitches, as well as worked in two extra 3p1k sections, one at the center front of the sock, one at the center back of the sock. This resulted in a 20 stitch increase.

I really love how these socks came out. I will most certainly incorporate the lovely coin cable and twisted stitches in some future pair of socks.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

The state of things*...

I am of the opinon that a good indication of how I'm doing can be divined by a quick look into my knitting basket. This morning my basket looks like this:

It's messy and filled with considerable project detritus made worse this past week when I tested out a couple of new projects. I'm letting prior work like the prefrogged Firestarter sock and the twining vine leaf motif swatch clog up my bin. This is a tangible representation of the intangible, my clouded mind.

Last weekend I wanted to knit so badly but I really didn't have the time, or more importantly, the mental energy, to face knitting issues which had become irrationally monolithic. So Sunday I whipped out my Mason Dixon Knitting book and tried to create one of their felted garter stitch boxes. I looked over the pattern and found it easy to redesign for a much smaller, test version, so that I could in turn test a lid pattern for the box, as their pattern is lidless.

Here it is pre-felting. I used Manos del Uruguay yarn leftovers from a dog sweater project. I know it kinda looks like a mushroom. Heh heh heh.

But seriously, that is like a little bin with a lid. It is. Now that I trust my ability to redesign their pattern all I need to do is see how the lid works once the project is felted before going full-size.

Another quickie test project I worked on last week was a raglan sweater christmas tree ornament prototype. I love the yarn and thought the colorway would be perfect.


I was wrong. First, a green sweater isn't going to stand out on a green tree. It just isn't. So strike one for the color choice. Then there is the issue of the yarn striping. It will take more maneuvering than I have the interest to invest in to stop renegade color changes from mucking things up. Case in point is the near-finished prototype:

*11/6 Major edits for content, typos and grammatical mistakes were made. Ugh!


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