Thursday, January 31, 2008

Yes, this is the last leg!

As of yesterday afternoon, in the waning light of the afternoon, I took a handful of decent photos of my EZ Baby Suprise Jacket. Here it is in all its amoeba glory!

As I hadn't gotten to the front corner increases yet, I still wasn't exactly sure how it was going to wrap up.

I took a bunch of photos hoping to capture the lustrous quality of this Lorna's Laces yarn, the Shepherd Worsted. It is the best in woolly goodness, I almost feel compelled to make an afghan out of it. Almost. My bank account isn't that big :-).

Just in time for bed, about 9:00 pm, I bound off the last stitch very happy, as well as very annoyed. I was oh!so!happy because I will definitely be ready to gift this on Saturday and annoyed because, well, I'll have to leave that for another day.

But let's leave this post on a bright note, that of fibery perfection:


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Catching Up, Still

I realized, I'm still not done with my Yarn and Me weekend.

As soon as Project Stole was complete, it was time to put in some quality time knitting my LMKG chevron scarf, The Queen's Forest. This little beauty has been in hibernation not only because it was a second tier project, but because even though I LOVE the colors of this yarn, the texture leaves me dead cold. There was no I.HAVE.TO.KNIT.THIS.NOW. going on with this project.

So why did I purchase the yarn? In a word, Rhinebeck. The yarn is called Marshmellow and is made by the indie outfit, Decadent Fibers. Its 80% alpaca, 20% wool.

For many knitters that fiber content would be a magnet, rather than a repellent. Tactile-wise, the yarn is soft and inviting, but as an aspy, the visual messiness is physically grating. That is probably completely unfathomable to most people, but nonetheless true. Unruly fibers such as alpaca, mohair, and angora, vex my senses. However, at the stall at the NY Sheep and Wool festival, the yarn was excessively enticing:

It wasn't until I wound it, and then began to knit with it that my dislike became unavoidable.

All those little fibers clawing their way out of their host core get under my skin. What can I say, I'm uh, unique. :-P

It never dawned on me to swap the yarn. No, the colorways seemed a perfect match for the chevron scarf concept, as well as pattern. And even now that I'm about 50% through, I still agree. It wont be a fast knit, but I've settled on trying to knit at least three inches on it every night, or every other night. With the baby sweater deadline looming, I've fallen off this schedule, but I'll be right back on it when I can and hopefully in a week or two this will be an FO.

Monday, January 28, 2008

I don't even know what to name this post...

The stress built up considerably last week. The posts I wrote over the course of it seem to be emanating an overwhelming shrillness that is discomforting. To be honest, I can't quite make out if the shrillness is coming from the written words or just the memories of my emotional state as I wrote the posts. Either way I want to rip them out and hide them away. Facing them is facing me in a raw and exposed state. I know I need to do it, so I'll do it by moseying along and getting back to the discussion of sweet yarn and knitting goodness. Here goes:

I did finish up the Dalegarn top down raglan baby sweater last week, and it is an acceptable finished garment. It just may be a wee bit (or even two sizes :-/) small.

I can't even bring myself to do a wrap up, other than to say I used size US4 needles and Dalegarn's Baby Ull. I assuaged my feelings of considerable inadequacy by delving into a new pattern, which can be, for me, pouring salt on an open wound. But, I did it anyway, and the lusciousness of the knit was a salve, rather than an irritant:

The pattern is Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket (BSJ). This is my first go around with it, as well as the yarn I'm using, the Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted. As I mentioned earlier, I cast this on a week ago today.

I've never ever, ever, ever understood the charm of the garter stitch until now. I always preferred the look and feel of seed stitch. But as I knit this yarn I was so seduced by it's sproingyness, by the soft and lofty merino, my fancy with it began to fan the flames of a long dormant afghan project. You see, I've been hoarding 18 skeins of Paton's Classic Merino for seven or so months now, unable to commit to a stitch pattern.

One of the many ideas fermenting in the back of my mind was the Log Cabin Afghan from the Mason Dixon book. My only reserve was the concept of all that garter stitch. On one hand, it's the perfect winter, no brainer knit, on the other hand it is a mindless, no brainer knit, just miles and miles and miles of knit stitch.

The stalemate enused for months but is now over. All it took was working on the EZ BSJ for maybe an hour or two and a dash of anxiety induced startitis. The M1s in the BSJ pattern began to seem too taxing and the idea of easy square knitting more desirable, so I found myself grabbing a couple of skeins of the Patons and casting on. It was yummy yummy no brainer goodness. Perfect for my state of mind!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

My Yarn and Me Weekend - Part Deux Two

Sunday morning I awoke with the fresh vigor that comes with knowing that even though it's a Sunday, it is a Saturday Sunday because there's no work the next day. I love that feeling.

Knowing I could procrastinate one more day on changing the sheets and duvet and taking care of the rest of the laundry, I dove right into La Digitessa. I think hubby wanted to ignore some impending duty because he suggested a road trip up to Center Harbor, New Hampshire, home of the fabulous Patternworks. Who was I to resist? I packed up three projects and we were off.

The shopping portion of the trip was a bust. I was really hoping to find something to inspire me to replace Yellow Toot. They sell Dalegarn, but they had not a single inspiring Dalegarn pattern pamphlet. I was also hoping to find some of that Lime and Blue Malabrigo which I used for Ripley's sweater for another project. Again, nada. But I didn't walk away empty handed. I picked up this little doodad:

In case it's not obvious, it's a car magnet. The sales clerk told me that she had one and a crazy driver agressively stalked her all the way to her destination. The stalker turned out to be a knitter who JUST.HAD.TO.KNOW where she got the car magnet. I had to have one, too. And even though my station wagon doesn't seem to have a lick of metal on the back hatch, there seems to be enough on the back haunch to get this baby to stick.

So a beautiful wintry drive, but no yarn, and no cure for my knitting restlessness. I still had Monday and enough nervous energy to make the most out of it. I awoke determined to purchase some Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted I had lovingly fondled at an LYS a couple of weeks earlier. It would be perfect for an EZ Baby Surprise Jacket, the salve for my Yellow Toot troubles. Done!

On my way there I hit a chain store and miraculously they still had some of that Lime and Blue Malabrigo left.

I was on a roll and by the time the weekend was out, I had two more WIPS on needles. But that'll have to wait for another day.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My Yarn and Me Weekend - Part Un One

Most normal people spend their weekends with their people. Me, not so much. I prefer being alone and somehow I managed to find a hubby (or maybe he was lucky to find me!!!) who likes being alone near me. We are an odd pair. But as the romance movie goes, "together we make sense." (Anyone remember that 1993 gem?)

On Saturday I was in definite need of alone time, as well as in full avoidance mode of both La Digitessa AND Yellow Toot. I barely knew what to do with myself. I picked up my two new books, Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitting and Clara Parke's Knitter's Book of Yarn and got comfy on my loveseat. I whipped through New Pathways, as it's a pattern based book and I'm not ready to take on a new sock project. I took my time with the Knitter's Book of Yarn, reading about 85% of the yarn section and then a quick perusal of all the patterns.

I hate to say it but I was a teensy weensy bit disappointed. It's definitely a fabulous resource on the different kinds of yarn - I finally learned what a guard hair is - but on the other hand there was so much more I wanted to know about wool that this book doesn't cover. I think the problem lies with my expectations and not the book. This is a survey of yarn, I was expecting a more encyclopedic discourse on wool yarn. So, not perfect, but still a great resource for now and for the future.

Next up? I still wasn't ready to face my knitting so I did the next best thing, I went through my stash. Even with my yarn nicely organized on Ravelry, it definitely pays to get it all out in the open once in a while. It's a sensuous experience, as well as a practical experience, since I found two pieces of unfinished business, that is the frogging and re-caking of two projects. This woe begotten dog sweater has been in need of frogging for six months!

I started frogging this by hand at one point this summer but the angora bloom on this yarn provided just enough tension to make the tendonitis pain in my forearm flair. It wound up being tucked away and safely ignored. As of Saturday, this was frogged and caked.

Another languishing task I found was a mess of yarn from these, my first, abandoned Firestarters.

I had frogged the sock, but the yarn needed re-caking. So, this too was done.

With my stash tidied up, and my mind clear, what's a girl to do but start a new pair of socks? So I started up HBO's Rome series on VOD and began a pair of stockinette socks using the Christmas Balls colorway of STR (one of my Christmas present skeins from my sister).

I was determined to use the size 0/2.0 mm addis I purchased for my La Digitessas, determined to prove my mettle as a sock knitter. What did I learn? With the right yarn, anything is possible. The Lana Grossa's Meilenweit 50 Seta/Cashmere just isn't the right yarn for this needle size. The STR, which is a considerably tighter spun yarn, knits up perfectly in this smaller gauge. If I still enjoy the La Digitessa pattern, I just may use the powder blue skein of STR Titania for my next pair.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Another day in paradise? Maybe, maybe not.

I checked my email this morning and saw that I had received a comment from fellow Raveller, Knitsabella, in which she told me she nominated me for a "You Make My Day" award on her blog, Knitsabella Knits. I don't which way to turn, I'm flabbergasted, and of course honored, that a few words of help & encouragement about her Firestarter socks translated into a "more than I deserve" award.

I'm an aspie so random human recognition friggin' weirds me out. It was an extremely nice thing for her to do. I don't know yet if I'm going to pay forward the compliment to bloggers I admire. I'll have to think on it. I'm already overwhelmed by life, as all my nerves are busy freaking out about waiting to hear back about a job. I'm supposedly one of two finalists and the job would be a significant change for me. I was really expecting to hear Friday and when I called that afternoon I was told I'd learn about their decision by today, specifically this afternoon at the earliest.

I was pretty miserable sitting in my car Friday afternoon right after I made the call and I succumbed to a two second Hillary weep. Facing a three day weekend in limbo was a daunting thought. After a nice, quiet drive home and a short trudge through the snow with the dogs I got over it.

What I wasn't able to get over was the prospect of knitting on La Digitessa. Her gussets drove me loony Thursday night. Here is one of my partially completed gussets:

Call this a pictoral euphemism of all my work on the gussets thus far (two done, two half done). For a pretty simple chart I kept messing this up left and right. It was obvious I needed a break and so I spent Friday night with the Persuasion miniseries and my baby sweater.

I haven't blogged about this project yet, which I decided just this moment to call Yellow Toot. (Inexplicable to me too. I don't know what the heck it means, but inspiration landed and that is what form it took. Who am I to judge?) Like I was saying, I haven't blogged about the project yet so let me fill in the back story. I started collecting yarn for this project back in November. I knew right away I wanted to do some colorwork and the idea of using Dalegarn Baby Ull quickly followed. Then over the course of six weeks I was plagued by creative congestion. I tried out many ideas, some of which I captured here:

A week or so ago, I finally just jumped in, winging it, as is my way. It's basically a top down piece with a little bit of fair isle.

Once I put it down Friday night I was totally struck by its miniature dimensions. I'm pretty sure it was just my excessive anxiety plaguing me, but I debated with myself all weekend long on whether to frog it or not. By last night I decided to keep on knitting. All I have left is half an arm and weaving in the ends. I should be done tonight.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Sliding my way into the weekend...

It was my plan to get a blog post in about my recently cast on baby sweater this week. Doesn't look like that's gonna happen since all I've been knitting (and thinking about) are my La Digitessas.

Once I began to knit sock #2 on US1/2.25 mm needles I actually began to enjoy the knit. So much so I didn't stop knitting until I got a few rows into the gusset and realized I needed to catch up on the first sock. (My plan is to work on these in tandem, so as to better master each phase, as well as reduce knitastrophes).

While knitting sock #2 I made the decision not to frog sock #1, which is knit on US0/2.0 mm needles, but to just pick up where I left off with the larger needles. This is my first go around at the pattern, I don't expect, or need, perfection. Next time around I'll be unforgiving.

So far the discrepency isn't that overwhelming. What was overwhelming was going back to knit on the first sock. OMG, I didn't realize how miserable a knit it was until I had a comparison. I made the right decision switching to US1s. What I was doing on the size US0 needles can't really be considered knitting, it was more like pulling teeth through tight knots. Stoopid! Strike one for succumbing to knitting peer pressure.

Part of the problem is that the yarn is really, really splitty and the splitty sections can get very puffy (maybe from the cashmere content?). Splitty can be dealt with but when the splits are obscured by fluff, it's very frustrating. I don't even know how I got as far as I did on the US0s. Now that I'm in a better gauge, the splitty issues have decreased and I've been able to use the knitting without a cable technique. This is helpful because it's now the gussets that are kicking my arse. I'll leave that discussion for another day when I have pictoral assistance.

Have a great weekend, blogosphere!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Score! AKA Thank You Hubster!

My Knitpicks package came Tuesday. Our mailman left it on a heap of snow next to our mailbox. I was a little pissed off to see that some snow had adhered to the box and in melting had saturated the cardboard. I was ready to get real pissy, as I all I could think about were the precious books inside being ruined by the moisture.

I stuck it in the sink and pried it open and was relieved that everything inside was in perfect condition. Whew!

So, what do we have here?! Clara Parkes' Book of Yarn. I had seen this book and consigned it to the novelty category, as far as level of wanting it. However, as soon as found out it was written by Mrs. Knitter's Review, it was immediately converted to must-have status. I'm not a regular over at KR, by any stretch of the imagination, but whenever I wanted some info on a yarn or needles or something, I have found it a fabulous and more importantly, reliable, resource. I expect nothing less from this book.

Then there's Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters. I've been dying to get this since coming across the two needle circular knitting tutorial on Youtube shown here:

I came across the video when I was having problems with my first Firestarter sock. I checked out videos for both the magic loop and the 2 circ techniques. Magic loop just doesn't jibe with my knitting style, but Cat Bordh's 2 circ technique was right up my alley. It hasn't supplanted my use of dpns entirely, but it's getting there little by little.

After plowing through her videos I hit her website and read up on New Pathways. I knew I wanted it but I'm really cheap when it comes to books. I usually only purchase knitting books when I'm binge spending and can pile them on with out feeling it. But it's not in my spending nature to go out and specifically buy knitting books, even must haves. So, when hubby gave me a small xmas budget and I saw Knit Picks had it $10 cheaper than anywhere else ($19.11, as opposed to $28.95), I was ecstatic.

I love the whole concept of this book, how she shows knitters new ways to look at sock structure, as opposed to books that are all about fabulous sock patterns. Don't get me wrong, both have their place, but right now in my knitting career I am far more attuned to learning about sock structure than I am in learning to knit up pretty vintage lace socks.

And to round out the package (and spend the maximum allowed under Hubby's guidelines) I picked up two pair of their new Harmony wood circulars, in sizes US1 and US2, as well as some lovely (overpriced!) stitch markers. As far as the needles I've only had a chance to use the US1s on La Digitessa. They're fabulous. They have much finer points that my KA bamboo circs, making work on La Digitessa almost a breeze.

Tell me why are these cutsey little stitch markers so expensive? There seems to be some cognitive dissonance going on with the pricing of these things. I purchased the cheapest they had, a pack of six for $12.00. Can someone tell me why these should cost $2 to $5 apeice? Am I just being a scrooge? Probably.

Thanks hubby!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Project Stole C'est Finis!

As noted earlier in the week, Project Stole c'est finis! Oui! Oui!

I rushed home yesterday hoping to take some photos of me modelling the stole before the sun set. I took many photos, most sucked. If I liked the pose, the stole wasn't sharply detailed; if the picture was crisp, I hated the pose. C'est la vie, non? You'd think that would stop me from posting far too many pics but it wont. (I do think, though, I've gotten this French thing out of my system!)

Ahhh! Project Stole, how I love thee, let me count the ways. I am a little ashamed at how proud I am of this project. It's not that it was difficult, because it wasn't. It's just that it is really one of the first things I've designed and implemented and completed sucessfully, with the stress on implemented.

I'm one of those people who always bites off more than they chew, as my recent foray into sewing can testify to. My eyes are bigger than not only my talent, but my fortitude. Somehow, though, I succeeded and in success I achieved a great deal more than a beautiful garment.

Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran in the Empire Colorway
Depending on the light the yarn looks grey or blue.
85% Wool, 10% Silk, 5% Cashmere
Approximately 1209 yarns, or 13 skeins.

I love this yarn to no end and will use it again.

Both circular and straights in size US8/5.00 mm.

I had envisioned a 20-25" wide, 60-70" long garment, but I didn't swatch. I knew I'd decide on both dimensions once I had gotten the knitting underway. I also put my faith in a Knitter's Review write-up of the yarn which indicated the yarn grew 5% per inch once washed.

After I began knitting the project, it became obvious that blocking to obtain the desired width would take a great deal from the length so I settled on a pre blocking length of 80 inches. At about 70 inches, the weight of the WIP convinced me I wouldn't need 80 inches. I stopped knitting at 76".

I failed to take a pre-wash measurement of the width, but post wash and block my stole measures between 21 and 24 inches wide (I'm obviously a sucky blocker!) and 76 1/2 inches long.

My project was inspired by the Cabled Shrug from Fall 2005's Interweave Knits. When I came across some pictures of the pattern I was compelled to take it on, although I knew right away I'd design my own.

The main motif, the embossed twining vine leaf, comes straight out of a stitch dictionary, specifically Barbara Walker's Second Treasure of Knitting. It is a fairly common motif, as I have since seen it in other stitchionaries.

The biggest hurdle I faced was in framing the embossed vine motif. I really wanted something simple to make it pop, but I was immediately overwhelmed by the rantings from my inner engineer. She wanted more cables, more texture, more, more, more. Good sense won out, I think. The simple double seed stitch and zig zag cable quietly frame the star of the design, the embossed twining vine leaf motif.

One may think to add fringe to a project like this, but the article at Knitter's Review advised against it. Once washed "the previously flat and relaxed loose ends shortened and became puffy and pearl-like" which make it unsuitable for "fringe-heavy projects.

And finally, the true test of success will be how I feel about it in five years. I'm extremely proud to say I'm ready for that test.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Contemplation on Knitting While Commuting

My commute this morning had a lot of this:

Such a panorama makes me feel the world still has magic. When you live in a metropolitan region like I have for most of my life, snow doesn't always remain picaresque once 24 hours have passed. This got me thinking on how people who live with this monochromatic palate cope with it. I love how it looks now, but could I face this day in and day out for months on end like some parts of the world do. No way, Jose.

Of course that made me think of fair isle knitting, which hasn't been too far out of my mind as I hope to incorporate some into a baby project. Now, as a knitter, when I think of fair isle knitting I think of Lopi and Dalegarn yarns. Now I'm not a yarn or knitting history buff, but it seems understandable that the northern countries associated with each of these yarns, Iceland and Norway respectively, probably have more than their share of bleak, wintry vistas. That makes the development and/or tendency to this type of knitting understandable. Color makes us humans happy and when nature is not so generous it make sense that we would devise a way to bring color with us into the winter months by incorporating it into our winter clothing.

Now since fair isle knitting originated in Fair Isle, one of the Orkney Islands off the northernmost tip of mainland Scotland, I couldn't help but think how hundreds of miles south the occupants of Ireland's Aran Islands developed their knitting. The much more temperate, and dare I say colorful, region focused their creative energy into developing textured knitting as opposed to color knitting. Maybe they didn't need color in their life?

The commonly held belief that the intricate cable and stitch patterns that define Aran sweaters serve a double duty, one, to keep the fisherman warm and dry, and two, as an identifyer in case of death at sea, is one I've read all over the web. Both of these suppositions are being put down as myth in the the wikipedia entry for Aran Sweaters. Everyone knows the wiki can be wrong, but it is still food for future thought.

Monday, January 14, 2008

And then there was snow

I've been in a bubble. It wasn't until the storm alert at the end of the new Sarah Connor Chronicles last night that I had any clue snow was in our near future. Just yesterday I took this photo of the snow left on our lawn from December.

The conservation area, in the background, is almost all free of snow. This patchy stuff left in the far right corner of our yarn receives little sunlight. And not that you asked, but the lack of light, coupled with the really high water table, is why sometimes call this area of our property Lake Beaver (our property is bordered on two sides by the Beaver Dam Brook).

It seems we are slated to get about six inches of snow and I've decided to take a snow day. After the traffic fiasco from the December storm, most communities were eager to close schools. I heard from the hubby that Boston called school off last night. But enough about snow, already. It is winter in New England so it's par for the course. More exciting is that I have two FO's to share this week!

{insert happy dance}

I finally, finally, finally, finished Project Stole. All I have to show for it are some blocking photos so today will be about my Cornucopia Socks.

I was on a mission this weekend. I have a baby project I've been stumbling on that has begun weighing heavily on my mind and making all my WIPs seem like nothing more than additional ball and chains. I especially felt some urgency with the Cornucopia Socks because I was eager to see how the yarn responded to washing.

I am happy to report the answer is beautifully!

I put them in the washer with a load of darks and some Tide, on my usual permanent press setting, and they came out looking fabulous. No shrinkage, no felting, and no untoward growth. Happy as a clam, I am.

Araucania Ranco Multi
75% Wool, 25% Polymid
This is a much coarser wool than I've been using on socks lately. However, it has great texture and knits well with no splitting.

US2/2.75mm & US3/3.25mm dpns, 3.00mm addi turbo circs

Typical toe up construction. I've much improved my tension on the Judy's Magic Cast On toe. I've eliminated most of the pre-blocking puckering.

The stitch pattern I cribbed off of Ravelry. The inspiration was Nancy Bush's rib and cable socks from Fall 2005's Interweave Knits. (This edition also contains the inspiration for Project Stole! What a coinkydink!) This is the first toe up sock wherein I made sure my gusset increases mimic cuff down socks. I really like that look:

All ready to be gifted. Woohoo!

Friday, January 11, 2008

One Complaint and a Woodpecker

My husband ordered me a few belated Christmas gifts from Knit Picks last Saturday and being the impatient louche that I am I immediately started stalking the order. Every day the order status remained "pending." So by Tuesday I'm pissy and I call and they tell me that there is no problem with the order it's just that their warehouse is backed up because they were closed for 12 days.

I hold my tongue on the phone, but in my head I'm saying WTF?!? What could they be thinking closing their warehouse for twelve whole days during the busiest retail season of the year? Geesh! What kinda company gives their employees the holiday season off!?! Truly. What kinda company?

Who's the scrooge now, huh? Well, at least I'm kind to birds. (Now that's a weird segue, eh?)

Last May was the first spring in our current home and I took a week off to do some organizing and relaxing and I got a chance to do the first birding in my life. Where I grew up the only birds I recall were pigeons and seagulls. So I was more than eager to spend time during that vacation watching the birds. It didn't take long to get hooked. And slowly but surely I've been accumulating bird feeding apparatuses ever since.

Anticipating the snow inhibiting my access to the bird feeders in the yard, I devised a way to be able to keep feeding the birds all winter, as well as bring the birds closer to the house for keener viewing.

I'm pretty darn impressed with my grand notion of stacking the suet feeders. Now we can watch them with ease while we eat. We have one downy woodpecker who loves the suet.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Crazy Brain Malfunction

Has your brain ever made you believe things that aren't true? Mine does. It's a cross I bear with longstanding resistance. I was getting in a couple of rows on La Digitessa last week when I was overwhelmed with the idea that my sock tension WAS.ALL.WRONG.

I looked down at the sock and all I could see were smooshed cables with no stitch defniition. I convinced myself that the US0/1.5mm needles were too small for the yarn. I was so convincing I decided to knit up some rows on the second sock using US1/2.0mm needles.

By the time I had a chance, and some sun, to properly photograph the damning evidence my hysteria had dissipated and I could plainly see that my fear was as phony as a two dollar bill.

My brain was trying to tell me I wasn't enjoying knitting these on the US0/1.5mm needles. But because I'm so foolish I may kinda, sorta think I'm less of a knitter because I don't have the fortitude. What a crock. It's true, I want to be that knitter who can knit on size 00's with ease, but I'm not and that's that. I gotta get over it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

And then there were four...

Once upon a time there were 15 balls of Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran in my stash.

Abracadabra (aka four months later) now there are four!

I had been using classic Clover circulars to knit this up, with a dpn for cabling. That is up until this Sunday when the unrepentant nature of the joins finally made me switch to straights. I haven't used straights in a long, long while. My recent conversion to toe up socks has resulted in an unexpected conversion to using Addi Turbo's which in turn has spoiled me for my Clover circulars. I'm still not fond of the metal but I looooove the placid joins, so much so I've lost all patience with the obstinacy of my Clovers'.

This project has definitely become a slogalong, but not a bad one. No. The yarn's texture is akin to Malabrigo so it remains a distinct pleasure to knit. It's just the unending length and absence of visible progress that saps my interest. I thrive on visible progress. Who doesn't? I'm convinced that's half the reason I and many others love knitting socks. Wouldn't you agree?

Laid out like this, progress is clearly visible. It's taller than me, but since I'm only 4'11", we would all agree that isn't saying much.

What's aided my renewed interest in getting this WIP off my needles is being able to incorporate the cabling without a needle technique. I was skeptical of this technique since reading up on it for the first pair of Firestarters I did back in the fall. I had a hard time fathoming how knitters use it with fingering weight yarn and the needles that go with fingering weight yarn projects, but reading Peaknit's post about it last week got me over to Grumperina's tutorial again and I was inspired to try it on the heavier weighted yarn of Project Stole.

I'm still working out the kinks of the process, but the relative ease I took to it with the Jo Sharp yarn made me confident enough to try it on the second Cornucopia sock I cast on last night. Consensus: rockin' good!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

What to do, what to do?

As I mentioned earlier, I picked up a few skeins of a fabulous-looking yarn a week or so ago, Araucania Ranco. The yarn was purchased to make gift socks. I received an alarming comment from blogger pickayarn that the yarn doesn't hold up very well to even normal care and a silent but resonant alarm went off in my head. What do I do?

Well, first, I hit Ravelry and sent messages to several members who have made socks with this Araucania Ranco yarn. I noticed at once that the earliest completed projects I found were from December. Does that mean this is a new yarn or that older projects have yet to make it on to member profiles? My impression was that the yarn itself is new to the market.

Yesterday morning I checked Ravelry and I received responses to three of the messages I sent. One member lives in Australia and has yet to wear her finished socks, since it's now summertime down under. The other two confirm that despite what the label says, the end product does need to be handwashed. Neither mentioned the expansion in size that pickayarn did, but one of them did report felting to the bottom of her feet, as pickayarn did.

Well I'm already done with one sock and they are beautiful in my eyes. This colorway makes me think of a fall cornucopia, so that is what I've decided to call it.

I'll finish the second sock and stick it in the washer et al. on gentle and see what happens. If they felt up they may still fit me since they are way too large now. I will then return the one skein I didn't cake, stash the one I did, and begin again in finding new yarn. If they do hold up, well, I'll use the other two skeins as intended and find new yarn to replace this gift.

Monday, January 7, 2008

This post is about socks, eventually

I finished my Seal Rock Socks last Thursday and they are gorgeous. I haven't really worn them other than to model them in the frozen sun Saturday morning, but I'm looking forward to it. Atreyu, my Australian Shepherd, was kind enough to inspect the bridge before I crossed it to stage my socks. Isn't he handsome?

Ripley gets all the photos here b/c he's the one who needs my woolen expertise, but Atreyu is the beauty of our canine family. Between our two remaining felines it's a toss up. Grissom is the king of the castle and Hunter is our scaredy cat.

My socks? Not so cute, but there is something about them...

I finished the first sock using a tubular cast off. I went back to Montse Stanley's Knitter's Handbook and using her advice I put the stitches on two needles and kitchenered them together. It worked like a charm.

A week later, and about 10 stitches in on the second sock, the technique lost it's appeal. I decided to frog back on both socks and just used my basic bind off.

One thing I realized as I was knitting these up is that the addi turbo size 2's that I purchased to use with Cat Bordhi's two circ technique are really 2.5's, or 3.00mm. Addi Turbos doesn't make 2.75mm size 2s which is the width of all of my size 2 dpns. Now that's a bit frustrating.

I don't know if it was mastering the 2 circ technique, or just a newly visible trend in my knitting, but by the time I hit the rib cuff on the second sock it was obvious I was knitting in two different gauges. The toes look comparable:

However, the calves are where the gauge issue becomes visible. The right sock is the one I finished first. The yellow demarcation shows where I went from using 2.75mm (size US2) dpns to 3.00mm (size US2.5). Below the line, where I used the dpns, the pooling matches up. Above the yellow line, where I was using the Addi circs, the pooling is much less consistent.

The difference only became visible to me after I had knit about 14 of the 20 ribbed cuff rows on the second sock. There was a marked difference in the pooling on the ribbing, so I decided to frog back to where the ribbing began and finished the sock using size US3 (3.25mm) dpns. These matched my initial gauge much better than the 2.75 mm dpns.

Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock mediumweight in the Seal Rock colorway
100% superwash merino

Size US2 and US3 dpns and size US2.5 circulars

Basic toe up sock using Judy's magic cast on toe and a slipped stitch k2tog heel

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