Monday, March 31, 2008

Where is my mind?

For over a week now my knitting mojo has been MIA. MIA. MIA. MIA.

I think it evaporated once last month's siege of stress came to a close. I have been unable to count stitches for cast ons, for gussets, nor for anything knitting related, really. I have two projects still at the cast on stage after HOURS spent attending to them Friday afternoon and evening, and a small part of Saturday. I have never made this big a mess of casting on and frogging for as long as I can remember.

So what was the commotion about? Moebius's or Mobius's, take your pick of the spelling. I thought I would try the free Mobius pattern Cat Bordhi has on her website. Well, it turns out it's only free if you already own a copy of her very unique cast on instructions, known as mobius cast on MCO). Even with a printout of the directions from her Knitty Gritty episode on DYI, I grew very petulant towards Ms. Bordhi and her CO from hell the more I spent time on it.

With the hope of rectifying this pattern crisis, I hit two LYSes Saturday afternoon with the ultimate goal of getting a copy of Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Around, which among many other great things, has a moebius pattern. I had no luck, and though most certainly disappointed, I found something to sooth:

I didn't stop to register the name of this Lorna's Laces colorway but these skeins are soft and sproingy and mine, mine, mine, all mine! Maybe another Digitessa sock?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

To Mobius, or not to Mobius

I still have the remainder of a ball of Artyarns Handpaint stripes in my knitting bin and it whispers sweet nothings to me whenever it catches my eye. It's siren's call is getting harder to ignore.

I used this yarn to make a pair of striped mitts a month ago which are now my office hand warmers.

I absolutely love the combination of these colors. Yum yum yum yum yum. According to my ravelry calculations, I have about 244 yards. Enough for a Mobius to keep at work so that I can be all matchy matchy and nauseate my cubemates. Good times.

But as I pondered how to mod the mobius to suit my own tastes, it dawned on me that a tubular cowl would be just the ticket to recreate the striping of the lime and blue malabrigo hat. I might not have enough yarn for a tubular scarf, but I have more than enough for a cowl scarf.

Now it's just a matter of brewing up a pattern.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A thank you, a pardon my way, and some knitterly stuff

I want to thank everyone for the very sweet comments on both my blog and my sock. My social awkwardness looms large at moments like these. People say nice things and I have the urge to send expansive emails thanking them but I never do. There is a wall between me and the world wide web that I haven't yet learned to traverse.

Emotionally, I feel like I know many of you intimately. You let me glimpse your own lives. I read about your good days, your bad days, and the fabulous knitting that happens either way. Intellectually, I feel very distant, as if you are like my favorite TV characters and so I shouldn't bridge the gap with even the minimal human contact of an email. Part of me thinks this is my way as an aspy, but part of me thinks that doesn't cover it. Other bloggers must feel exactly as I do. We are so intimate, yet we are strangers. Some people can befriend strangers easily, others, like me, cannot.

I'm living and I'm learning and I'm very thankful for those of you who come my way and share a little bit of yourselves in the comments section. I truly appreciate it.

As far as knitting, right now the end is near on Blueberry Moon. I just have to know when to say stop and begin the ribbing. I have enough yarn for another five or six inches, but I'm not sure yet if I want another five or even two inches. The fabric is very drapey so I worry that I may need to go shorter than my impulse. But, then, a too short sweater is far less useful than a too long one. In other words, a decision is still brewing.

Last week I purchased a pair of mannequin feet off of ebay. They're not as large as I would have hoped, but they did pretty well displaying the La Digitessa's. They will be perfect for my diminutive sock size but for the larger socks I knit, I just may have to break down and get the large sized sock blockers. Pooh.

I've already frogged back my jewel rib sock because I seem to be experiencing gusset brain freeze. I started the gusset about 12 rows too soon. I kept knitting though, and decided to just knit even after getting the desired width with the gusset, thinking that would do the trick. It didn't look or feel right:

Someday I will write down a basic sock pattern so that I don't reinvent the wheel every time. Good idea, dontcha think?

Friday, March 21, 2008


The La Digitessa pattern by Yarnissima is perfection. My iteration? Not so much.

That's not to say I'm not proud of my achievement, it's just that I know I can do better, and I will. I fully intend to make a second pair with a yarn better suited to the intricate pattern.

The biggest problem I had was with the gussets. My increases were very holey. My next biggest problem was with the heel K2togs. My purl stitches are very wide and laddery.

Lana Grossa Meilenweit 50 Seta/Cashmere
65% Merino, 15% Silk, 16% Polymid, 4% Cashmere
This is a soft yarn with great stitch definition. The fluffy, splitty nature made for a difficult knit on the 2.00 and 2.50mm needles. I hard a much easier time once I transitioned to the 2.75mm.

I used about 84 grams out of a total 96 grams, or 396 yards of yarn.

I used circulars primarily. I started out with size 2.00mm needles but transitioned to 2.50mm needles mid foot. Somewhere around the heel on both socks I transitioned to 2.75mm needles.

Although the pattern looks complicated, it's pretty simple. I think there may be one error in chart 5a, where the ladder cabling morphs into the traveling bars. I think I had to k2tog where the pattern indicates to cable the stitches, but I was at the beauty parlor when I hit this snag, so I didn't document it properly.

I definitely started the gussets too late, which gave me extra long feet. As well, the pattern indicates that the knitter should start the gusset on a row four of the laddering cable, but when I did so I wound up on a different part of chart 1 when the traveling bars intersected the main snaking cable pattern. It isn't' the end of the world, but next time I need to make sure to begin the gussets on the right row of the pattern.

I also alternated the pattern so that the traveling cable bars and crowning C1s intersected in the opposite direction on both socks, because like the Harlot (#2), that's how I roll.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

More Cringing than Knitting

I have a love-hate relationship with this blog. Ever since hitting "publish" on my last post I have been cringing inside. Did I give too much of myself away? Did I make myself look foolish? Did I even make any sense?

So much self-censorship is exhausting. Why can't I just throw myself out there, warts and all? I feel a world of judgment around me, always. And that is why this blog exists, truth be told. I need to stretch my boundaries of comfort. I need to allow myself to be foolish and inconsistent and prone to over sharing. That is who I am. This blog, on the surface, is all about knitting, but it is also about trying to find some pride of self, not just pride of workmanship. Sometimes, though, the public nature of the endeavor gives me the heebie jeebies. Well, often.

I will say that all this mental self-absorption has been a distraction from the back and arm pain, which I am angry to say, still plague me. An epigram by Ben Franklin included in one of HBO's recent John Adams episodes can't help but be turned over in my mind, again and again: "Fish and visitors smell in three days." I'd like this visitor to go home now, thank you very much. Please?

So no, I haven't put in a lot of time on my knitting, not really. I've knit less than a handful of rows on Blueberry Moon and just barely began another sock.

Once I realized I mucked up the stitch count for the ribbing on the sock it's been pretty much abandoned. I have no head for knitting math right now.

I've been stalling on Blueberry Moon but I didn't comprehend why until last night. A month or two ago I purchased a 40" circular for the project. With the wider needle it is much easier to test out the sizing as I go, since I'm knitting top-down free hand. What I realized last night, when I followed the urge to switch back to a 24" needle, the wider needle was sucking my interest right out of the project. With the wider needle, each row seemed to take on epic proportions. Once I switched to a shorter needle, the rows "felt" considerably shorter, and my interest in the endless stockinette was slower to ebb. The human brain is a wonder, isn't it?

As far as the La Digitessa's, I'm waiting for a new tool to come in the mail today before posting my wrap up. This project deserves a post equal to the beauty of the pattern, so great photos are a must. I'm hoping the new tool helps.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I love MA

I grew up on a densely settled, flat, barrier island, right outside of Queens, NY, on Long Island's south shore. I lived a stone's throw from the ocean, but we had no view. Between me and the water were six and seven-story apartment buildings that ring the shore, block after block after block.

Ever since I can remember, I have loved New England. As a kid I was drawn to the cliche of New England. It was not only the rolling green hills and white steeple churches, but the hardscrabble tenacity of Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome. I already had the hardscrabble background, all I needed was Wharton's austere country landscape to fill out this childhood fantasy of myself.

In September 1986, at age 19, I found myself at college in Boston, Massachusetts. A month later the world's most famous ground ball error turned a man, and an entire region, bitter. When the Mets took the Sox in the World Series, the city lost it's breath. I paid no mind, I was a Yankee's fan.

Slowly, but surely, I stopped saying cawfee and started saying kahfee. And when I went to my first Yankee's/Red Sox match at Fenway with my just-visting, New Yorker pals, I was the only one of my group rooting for the home team. I was proud to be a Sox fan, and only a little thin skinned about my team's perpetual inferiority.

Hanging around with local punks at the city's rock clubs, rather than my college cohorts, I always felt more like a townie, than a budding intellectual. To the townies, though, my education would always keep me separate. The friction I still feel straddling these two worlds came vividly to mind when I watched Ben Affleck's Gone Baby Gone this weekend. It is an almost pitch perfect movie about class, Boston townie-style. The movie looked perfect, too, right down to the grimy vinyl-clad three-deckers and ubiquitous corner stores.

When one character says "up Providence," which is geographically south of her, my heart swelled in defiant pride of the implied willful ignorance. I found myself aching for something lost. Was it something as cliche as lost youth? Partly, it must be. But it isn't only youth, really. It is mostly my absolute love for the town portrayed in the movie. Even though I moved out of the dense residential neighborhoods of Boston ten years ago, in my heart, I think I will always live there. They are kin to me. They are etched deeper in my heart than where I spent the first half of my life. Who can tell why, they just are.

And this musing makes the quiz I saw at ZantiMissKnit's blog last week very timely:

You Are 56% Massachusetts

You're likely a Massachusetts transplant. Big rotaries still scare you, and you probably live outside of 495.

They got the first part right, but I have never been afraid of rotaries and I live right outside of 128, not 495, which is a fairly opaque reference to all save a million or so people in the greater Boston area.

As far as knitting, Friday night I was struck down by a bad bout of tendinitis in my right forearm. The pulsating pain is a nuisance, and so I am a whiny mess. Yesterday was a regional holiday so I was home fotzing around when I decided to throw caution to the wind and plow through the last leg of La Digitessa. They are rack drying presently and in a day or two I'll have pictures!

Friday, March 14, 2008

A yarn asserts itself; a persistent knitter emerges

I have had this beautiful Lorna's Laces yarn for forever and a day. The photo properties indicate I shot the yarn in September of last year, so I must concede this is barely a blip in the history of stash hibernation.

I had hoped the yarn would become Firestarters, but it had other plans, plans I am must admit, I am not yet privy to.

Last week I began a toe up sock on a pair of US0/2.00mm circs. I cast on 70 some odd stitches and found the fabric too tight. The colors began to pool diagonally, but since I frogged it, I can't say for sure if I would have found that to be a good thing or a bad thing.

I reduced the stitch count and began again on a pair of US1/2.50mm circs. The stitch definition was improved, no pooling was evident, but the stitches seemed a tad loose. I frogged this toe, too.

I'm hoping the 2.25mm US1's coming in the mail tomorrow will be just right. But really, I'm not sure if it is the yarn that is so persnickety, or me. I think all the fussing over needle size is me wanting to find just the right sock for this yarn. I think it has to be the most coveted colorway I have ever owned.

I'm definitely overthinking things again.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Estimated Arrival Time: Saturday, March 15

That is when my Knit Picks needle order is slated to arrive and that is when I think I may be done with my La Digitessa socks, which is une belle cause célèbre!

My Knit Picks order has been stalled out in Grove City, Ohio since Monday, but my first La Digitessa was finished last night. It was just in time to catch the last rays of sunshine to photograph.

In mine eyes she is beautiful.

I had thought the criss crossed traveling stitches would make for an intractably stiff stock, but it hasn't.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Knitting Kris called me out on my literary allusion in yesterday's post, and I'm sad to say I have so little memory of the either the Milan Kundera movie or book, The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

I devoured a handful of his books a lifetime ago but the melancholy they left in their wake has proven easy to resist. They did survive the great book purge of aught six because I do look forward to reading them again, this time with the lens only age and experience bestows. So long story short, Kris? I can't say with any certainty, but maybe someday I may. :-)

Someday. Well, as soon as I stop knitting with all my free time, that is. I must admit, I did not finish my first Digitessa sock. Nope. I'm just on the cusp of done. Today, though, I wanted to confess my binging ways, and with a woot!

Over a week ago, I put in some time on my Log Cabin Afghan. I finally decided which direction to go with the color integration, only to be hampered by my needles.

This project is from the Mason Dixon book, though I must add that the book has been inspirational, rather than referential. I saw the picture, and I decided I knew how it was done. So far so good, but I'm only on log five.

I was stopped from moving on by the needles. My clover bamboo joins are crazy inflexible. I used the same US13s on my burgandy throw with no problem. That afghan was worked over 120 or so stitches, lengthwise. The accretion method of the log cabin pattern is made difficult by wiry needles, so I stewed over my options.

I knew what I wanted to do, I just couldn't bring myself to do it: Mail order. Ever since I started using the Knit Pick Harmony wood circs hubby got me for Christmas, I've been having daydreams of replacing all of my needles with Knit Pick needles. All I needed was a few hundred bucks. Heh heh!

Last Friday, I took the plunge at Knit Picks. I didn't order replacements for all my needles, but I did make a big, fat dent. For the afghan project, I went a la carte, buying from their options line. I picked up two sets of US13 needle tips and two of the 60" and 24" joins. I'm hoping this will see me through the project.

Now all I have to find is the patience to wait out the mailman!

Monday, March 10, 2008

The unbearable lightness of knitting

Having just three projects on my needles feels crazy fabulous. I think it is because I've turned the corner on the problems which loomed large over them. My knitting basket is now as light in soul, as it is in it's corporeality.

Last Tuesday, though, I hit a very rough patch at the beauty parlor. It was a marathon four and a half hour ordeal and for a low maintenance woman like myself, this constitutes an evening in Hell. (And my hairdresser wonders why I come in ever twelve weeks rather than every six? Who has the fortitude to withstand this much primping?!?)

At the hairdressers, I felt the pull of La Digitessa and threw myself into her completely. Hours later all I had to show for it were about 22 rows.

La Digitessa ankle

22 Rows. And into each and every row I grafted a misery so potent I couldn't look at the sock for days without revisiting it. I hated on the pattern and the yarn and the sock itself.

La Digitessa Sock in progress

And then I got over it, though I don't have the photographic proof. And there was glee! I should have one sock done tomorrow, with pictures to follow on Wednesday, provided I don't derail again.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Today's Mood: Project Knitter

It may be Blueberry Moon's week and not La Digitessa's. Facing miles of stockinette just seems more palatable at the moment, and might remain so for the rest of the week. We'll see. I've got my marathon hair appointment this afternoon and I've brought both of these projects, as well as a cake of sock yarn.

Here she is with the sleeve I finished Sunday night. I had to frog the cuff last night and add a few rows; it was just a smidgen short. I've never frogged and reknit something that had been in it's knitted form for very long. I've frogged dormant projects, but I either gave away the yarn, or it's still sitting in my stash. It's a leap of faith to look at all that wrinkliness and assume it will look normal after a good wash. Faith is not something of which I'm well endowed. Love of the Big Mac, sadly, yes, but faith? errr, not so much.

With this sweater I am 100% a project knitter. I bought enough yarn for a sweater, and a sweater I will have, goshdarnit. That's how I'm feeling. It may not be the sweater I had envisioned and that's okay. However, it will be one that is wearable and attractive. Period. End of story. Next.

With that said, I'll segue right into my wrap up of Blue Wavering. I need to memorialize this pattern for future use here, as I'm not so good with NOT losing paper notes.

Araucania Ranco Solid Color #107
75% Wool, 25% Nylon
This is a fabulous yarn to knit with. It has great smooshiness and loft, as well as excellent stitch definition. I will definitely go back to this yarn, especially the multi-colors.

Size US2/2.75mm harmony wood circulars for the foot and heel, 3.00mm nickle addi turbos for the ankle and leg.

JMCO for the toe. I began with 40 stitches, 20 on each needle. Knit 9 increase rows, adding 36 stitches, for a total of 76 stitches. On the fourth WE row, I began the K4P1 rib on the top 36 stitches. I knit even for a total of 45 rows. (Total foot rows, 48.)

On the 49th row I began the first of 12 gusset increases. I turned the heel by short-rowing stitches 6 through 14 and 25 through 33. Heel flap was a standard Sl1K1. To elongate the heel, made short by the shallow gusset, I worked in pattern, K4P1 on the top of the foot and SL1K1 for four rows, after fully joining the heel, making sure every other row of the heel was knit fully.

To continue the entire leg in the rib pattern, on the first fully rib row I decreased one stitch in the back of the leg. This reduced the overall stitches to 75. Knit the K4P1 rib even for 65 rows, then bound off.

Whew! A happy Tuesday to you. :-)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Empty Rooms, Empty Basket, & Peace...

Hubby had a grand old time being my foot model. He has no reason for modesty, and clearly he knows it.

As you can see my Blue Wavering socks are done. One good wash and they'll be ready for the post. With a second cast off to tighten up one sock's bind off, a weight was lifted off my shoulders. As I contemplated the status of my knitting basket, (near empty!), the elephants meandering out of the room were near tangible. Who would have thunk three and a half ounces of knitted wool goodness would have such import?

Really they don't. I know it in my heart. Time is working it's magic and it has coincided with the conclusion of these socks. I've still have a way to go, but after seven or so months of stress it's nice to breath some uncomplicated air.

Seriously, though, my knitting basket is near empty! This is such a hallelujah! moment for me. I decided to put the Malabrigo yarn away and I resisted casting on another sock. As of today, I have Blueberry Moon, La Digitessa, and a Log Cabin afghan left to face and all three received action this weekend.

Sick to death of the endless k4p1 rib of the Blue Wavering socks, I pulled out La Digitessa. As of Friday the process knitter in me had decided to soldier on. Saturday afternoon I turned both heels, made a brief foray into the leg pattern, and set it aside to finish up the Blue Wavering socks.

Looking at the charts, it's smooth sailing from here on out. Memorizing the pattern shouldn't take much effort. Only one thing will get in the way of finishing these up this week, and that is Blueberry Moon.

The last I looked at this sweater was back in October. But last night I pulled out the bag this project was in, reorganized it, and set to work reacquainting myself with it. I did some frogging and some knitting and who knows, maybe March be this project's month.

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