Monday, March 31, 2008

Black Rainbow Socks

Black Rainbow Socks in Use
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Don't these look comfy? And they are, like a well-used flannel blankie. I've worn them with clogs, too, and they were great. If you ever get the chance to purchase Perchance to Knit's wool and cashmere blend, please do so!

I did get all my current stash of sock yarn (minus nasty acrylic I would not want to work with) numbered on Ravelry. Sigh. It is a LARGE number. And I have two more skeins coming. But this way they all will have an equal chance of getting turned into socks!

I ran into a woman who used to go to my church on the bus today, and we had a nice time chatting about our bus-riding craft projects. She works on the campus where I work, just takes a later bus usually, and only works part time. It was nice to have a crafty friend to knit with.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Finished Pair and a New Start

Garden Path Socks, Complete
Originally uploaded by sunasak
OK! Here are the finished Garden Path socks, at last. It looks like one is shorter than the other, but it's just my lack of skill in pulling them up to the same length. They definitely have the same number of rows! This photo fairly accurately depicts the color of the yarn, which is one of those hard-to-photography dark colors. I love the way the semi-solid shades from pinkish to blackish. I wish I could get more of this yarn in some of the other colors, which are very jewel-like, but I don't know if Jody will be doing any more. Darn. It's great stuff and it should be made available to more lucky knitters!

I spent the weekend on a trip out of town, and so I got to knit a lot on the drive and while chatting with the future FIL (who was on a "tell the visitors what is in the Bible" kick, so I knit a LOT). I was working on my version of the Posey socks. Once I gave up on using two colors, it was going great. I made lots and lots of little squares and got used to knitting through the back loops eventually. As the designer told me (which was really nice of her!) that makes the stitches firmer. They are quite firm, especially with my twisty Cherry Tree Hill yarn.

I'll have a photo of the work in progress soon, even though I made a silly mistake, so I am making the whole thing in a mirror image. I turned the first square the wrong way, so off I went going right instead of left, which is clearly indicated on the chart. But I didn't pay attention. Oh well, the sock basic shape will still be there and I will still be able to sew it up, put the bottom on and add the toe. Maybe I will make the second sock "correctly" and I will have a left sock and a right sock. Look at me, being patient with my errors.

More tomorrow!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Random Ideas

My brain has been thinking about knitting a lot. (How about the rest of me? What's it thinking about? How weird am I?)

Back on track...I finally finished the Garden Path Socks. WOOT. Photo to come. They ended up slightly tight, which I find funny, since they were huge on the size 0 needles, so I switched to 00s. They are very pretty, in a subdued (meaning it won't come across in photos) way. Certainly the semi-solid yarn was a good choice for the complicated pattern.

Speaking of semi-solid yarn and complicated patterns, I just ordered some of each from here:
On a whim I checked out an ad on the Sock Yarn Sales email list (such an enabling thing!) and really liked this woman's colorways. She has quite a few that have more color than a semi-solid, but not so much that you couldn't knit a lace pattern with it. And even her stripey yarns are subtle blends of similar colors. She is very good with green in all its shadings, and both yarns I got had green in them. One sages and one what could be called "pistachio." Since they are all one-of-a-kind, of course what I got is probably long gone, though there were two of the sage-y colorway. She also had a pattern for socks that was a textured lace, with two variants in one sock. I am a sucker for those, so I got it. Now, of course, it isn't on the site (odd, it was just a PDF--she should have told the etsy software there were ten of them or something). I promise to post photos when I can. You should all salute me for having the restraint to not buy the "pansy" colorway, knowing I have more than one yarn with those colors in them. Wow, restraint!

So, why is there a Wheel of Fortune on this post, you wonder? It's because I had a random idea. I have a really hard time determining what yarn to use for the next "bus sock" (i.e., easy sock to work on in public). I have so much stash. This time I cheated sorta and am using the most recent yarn I bought, but that feels unfair to the many lovelies in waiting. I wished I could just swirl them around and choose one blindfolded. Then I thought of the Wheel of Fortune (it's a roulette wheel, see the ball going around and around?). And I remembered my very old friend, the random number generator (it's how I used to choose the Employee of the Month when I worked for a mathematics software company, though no one believed me when my boss and then my boyfriend were the first two "winners). I think I will assign each ball o' yarn a number, then when I need to choose, randomly generate a number between 1 and x (x=number o' balls o' yarn). I will knit with that, even if it is brown (I do think I have knit enough brown socks now)!

At first I envisioned myself making little pieces of paper with numbers on them and sticking those in each ball or skein. That sounded tedious. But wait! There's Ravelry! And all my yarn is conveniently categorized in my stash! I can just write a number in the comments about each stashed sock yarn. And if I use a number, it can be used for the next yarn I buy (thereby not making the stash seem even bigger than it is, ha ha). I don't think I will index the acrylic sock yarn that got donated to me, but I'll do all the rest. The only time I envision not using a yarn I choose would be if one is slated for a particular "fancy" sock project in the near future.

Doesn't this sound like a fun plan? It's like gambling, only with yarn, so I am not afraid of it. After all, I love ALL my sock yarn!

OK, I am off to label items in the stash.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Authorized to Start a New Project!

Go me! Go me! I finished the black rainbow socks yesterday (after trying to do the 3-needle inside-out toe bind off that I love so much three times on the bus, I waited until I got to the yarn shop to do it--just about frayed the yarn to death). Finishing those (and oooh are the soft and nice) means I can start a new bus sock project. I am making ribbed basic socks out of that really lovely Fannie's Fingering Weight from Farmhouse Yarns that I mentioned a couple of days ago. I just love the pink/orange/maroon color and the fact that it won't self-stripe or make much of a pattern. It's dyed nice and blotchy, the way I LIKE it. I just cast on and knit about 7 rows on the way in today, but am loving it.

And Garden Path is on its last repeat. I am ready to wind the yarn in the picture and its friend the Garden Pansy, for fun weekend Posey Sock knitting as we go visit Lee's dad. The kids will be on their band trip, so it is actual time alone, which we don't get much of. Perhaps I will also do something other than knit!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Trying to Decide...

If my idea to spin and then knit something Buddy the Hairy Dog's undercoat is as bad an idea as this couple's clothing makes it look. Woo, these are about as comfy looking as the sweater a lady brought in to the LYS once felt. I think I like dog hair best on dogs.

Knitting is going along well. I am almost to the last repeat on Garden Path (hands started hurting last night so I had to stop). And I am past the heel on the second Black Rainbow sock. I found a cute flower washcloth pattern in the knitting pattern a day calendar that I may make from organic cotton to thank the lady who is tutoring Beccano in math. She eats only raw foods and is very organic, so she might like it.

Oh, and of COURSE, after I bought the VK magazine on Saturday, it was in the mail yesterday.

Also in the mail was some lovely yarn from Knitivity called Cat's Paw Nebula (at the top of this page). I added the picture after originally posting this. Very subtle purples and golds that are the colors of a photo of this nebula.

I keep getting ideas of what I want to make. More than my time allows. I got a huge hankering to start a Lizard Ridge afghan in my Kauni rainbow yarn. Wonder when I will fit that in among the garments, socks and shawls??

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Spring Slows Me Down

Black Rainbow Sock #1
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Happy Easter if you celebrate it. I am celebrating by watching college basketball, even though it isn't my favorite sport. I want to be able to participate in office chit chat tomorrow, I guess.

Knitting goes much more slowly in the spring, because I end up spending a lot of my time outdoors messing with plants or other projects. But, I did finish this sock, as I mentioned last time I blogged. It is so incredibly soft--people at the LYS really enjoyed touching it yesterday. I also made it past the heel on the second Garden Path sock yesterday, so I know I am making progress--it just seems so slow. I have way more things I want to make than I foresee time for. DARN IT.

Right now I really, really am fixated on how much I want to start the Posey socks in Knitty with my pansie and butternut squash sock yarn. I keep staring at that yarn and thinking, "Well, I could at least wind it up so I will be ready..." Of course, if I would stop blogging I could get to finishing those Garden Path socks.

I did have an amused moment yesterday when I was reading the Vogue Knitting magazine that came out recently. I am thinking my subscription has lapsed, because I have not received one in the mail yet, so I got it yesterday at the LYS. I earned enough teaching to afford a magazine! Well, what did I see but an entire feature with things to wear at weddings. After all those months I spent looking for items, what should show up but an entire article on knitted wedding attire, most of which was not stupid. I am very tempted to make the skirt part of the knitted dress and top it with the cardigan. Oh yeah, I'll have time for that AND the shawl I was already going to make. And that might be "knitting overkill" anyway. Still, after all that time I spend looking and looking for appropriate items, I couldn't believe VK had an entire feature on it! LOLZ, as the kids would say.

Thanks to everyone who is reading, and especially to those of you who are sharing your spring nature-watching experiences in your blogs. I am enjoying that stuff as much as knitting content!

Friday, March 21, 2008

I Succumbed

Yes, I succumbed to temptation and finally bought new sock yarn. I hadn't bought any since my previous job went away, but there were a few things at the Loopy Ewe that I loved so much (or were so inexpensive) that I had to get them.

Here's my favorite of the bunch. It's Farmhouse Yarns Fannie's Fingering Weight in Chocolate Covered Cherries. Wow, is it bright (and that is what I wanted). Orange, pink and brown. That will keep me awake! I love the way this yarn feels, too.

Another one I got that feels great is another skein of Araucania Ranco Multy. It sure feels nice and soft, and I chose some really interesting (to me) colors. A big mess of green, brown, maroon and white. I like how this stuff is dyed so it won't pool. All the pictures of this yarn knitted into socks on Ravelry look great.

I re-bought something I already had. I loved the purple Trekking socks I made for my friends' daughter last month so much that I got another skein. I think I will make something with a lace pattern for myself out of it. That is just the prettiest yarn!

Besides all that, I got two skeins of Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Light that was on sale. One in Butternut Squash (my favorite vegetable) and one in Spring Pansies (my favorite flower!). I was thinking of using them in those cool mitered square socks on Knitty this month.

I was somewhat dorky and when I was thrilled to see some of the Fiesta Baby Boom available, I got a skein (in Burnished Reds, which has gray and black in it), not noticing I would need TWO. Wow, Fiesta yarns are pricey. I have a plan to use the little skein on another pair of mitts from that new mittens book, and add beads.

Of course, the pair of lacy purple mitts I made from the book before turned out to be a real dud. No comments, no hits on the picture or anything, and I was the first person to knit that pattern on Ravelry! I guess they are sorta ugly.

In any case, since I haven't had time to post on the sock knitting or Texas knitting email lists, not many people are reading this blog other than the faithful few. What do I expect? Luckily I am very fond of the faithful few! I will try to post more interesting stuff soon.

PS: Sorry for not linking to the yarn sources or anything. Very limited time right now!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Filigree and Blossom, and Book Reviews

Originally uploaded by sunasak
I got the new book Knitting New Mittens and Gloves this week, and realized that my LYS had the right yarn to make the fingerless mitts on the cover. Besides that, I realized the shop was having its anniversary sale this weekend. So I got Nashua Creative Focus Cotton DK in both the cover red and the depicted grape purple. I was a bit weary of socks, so yesterday I sat on the patio, enjoying the weather, and started on a pair of the short version. I am almost done with the second of the pair (I got distracted uploading photos of my stash and finished items to Flickr so I could put them on Ravelry--this required uploading my new and wonderful Photoshop CS3 Extended that I got with staff discount at work, so time passed).

Anyway, these are weird little items, aren't they? They go super quickly, though, and actually are warmer than they look. I can wear them when my hands get sore from typing. I plan to make the longer versions in red, and I think I will use smaller needles. The pattern calls for size 6, and I used size 4, but my little bitty hands are still a bit small for the finished product. I'll try size 3 for the others. The pattern stitch is really fun. The only thing I don't like much is the finishing technique around the thumb area. I think I'd have crocheted an edge, and may do so on the second pair.

The Knitting New Mittens and Gloves book (by Robin Melanson) isn't as incredibly exciting and mind-bogglingly different as the scarf book in the same series, but there are some interesting patterns. Too many of them require finding and buying accessories and additional hardware for my taste. But, there are some easy ones and some hard ones, so there should be at least one or two patterns for you, no matter what your taste.

I've also finished a Bathtime Blossom in Anchor Magicline cotton. I do so love this pattern. The yarn is fun--if you get a chance, get it and make a dishcloth! The striping pattern is long, so it makes a fun effect. Note that on the washcloth, each "wedge" is mostly either pink or blue--that's just a lucky accident. I used size 4 needles and think 3 would have been better. I admit, it's the same ones I used on the mitts. They were sitting around.

I also managed to start the second sock in the Garden Path socks I am making using Jody's hand dyed yarn. I want to wear them, so I will be working on them when not in a bus. I'm saving the happy rainbow Perchance to Knit socks for the bus.

While I have a minute, let me tell you about the other book I bought recently (yay having a job so you can buy stuff). It's Knitting America, by Susan M. Strawn. It's one of those big coffee table type books, with lots of illustrations. I am really enjoying reading it, though. There is new information that Strawn has found, and lots of photos I have not seen yet, many of interesting pieces of old knitting. I love reading the history of knitting, and have probably bought every one of those books that's come out over the past few decades. This one is a great addition, and is wonderful to sit around and read when I need to rest my hands. A great birthday or other holiday gift idea! more thing. I got a new yarn yesterday at the LYS. I got enough to make a whole sweater, and a pattern for an interesting sweater that is a combination of knitting and crocheting. The yarn is Bouton d'Or Surya. It is very thin, probably fingering weight, though is is not a sock-type yarn--no bounce. It is solid and smooth and made of 55% bamboo and 45% soy. You would imagine that a combination of those two will be very soft, and it is. It's also slightly heathered, since we all know that bamboo takes color differently from soy (or at least NOW we all know that). I can't wait to knit and crochet with this. It is so soft and smooth. It comes mostly in pastel colors, so I got light blue--all the other colors really aren't for me. At some point, probably in the dead of next winter, I'll make the sweater (it's a spring one, so of course I will dawdle about it).

I hope that now I am back to a more regular schedule where I can at least blog 2-3 times a week!

Friday, March 14, 2008

And Now There Are Two!

Wandering Melody, Back
Originally uploaded by sunasak
I am still alive and knitting--the combination of the new job and a great visit from my father has led to no blogging time. I'll get more used to my schedule soon and blog better.

Anyway, lookee, here are the Wandering Melody socks. The yarn is pretty but I wasn't thrilled with the big stretch of greenish gold on the second sock. That color appears nowhere in the first one! But, they fit well and I am very happy with how the stretchy bind off worked out.

You will notice that I somehow managed to make the lines of YOs the same on both socks. I had fully intended to have it wander the other way on Sock #2. I really should have given #1 a glance at some point, huh? I did make the cables go the other way on sock #2. Well, maybe I will try this technique again some time.

I haven't gotten too much done other than bus knitting because of the family fun I had last weekend and earlier in the week. I have a few more repeats to do on the Bathtime Blossom I am making for mindless sleepy-time knitting, and I started a new bus-riding sock yesterday. It's just a plain one, but the yarn is nice: Perchance to Knit wool/cashmere. It is a very smooth yarn, feeling almost cottony. The color is Black Rainbow, which is quite festive--a lot of black with stripes of very bright secondary colors, almost day-glo. Because the yarn is so intense, these are simple, generic socks. The yarn came with a free beaded stitch marker, which was a nice touch. I am enjoying knitting with this yarn, after lots of more splitty loosely plied yarns.

I will try to comment on the new Knitty this weekend.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Still Here, Not Knitting Enough

I figured that on the first week of my new job, the knitting would suffer, and I was right.

The good news is that I do have bus knitting time. The bad news is that two rides' worth on my second Wandering Melody sock turned out to be slightly off-center, so I spent today's ride frogging a couple of inches of beautiful sock. I actually didn't take the knitting with me yesterday because I was so peeved at myself that I'd messed up on Wednesday. I do agree that the socks are nice, so I'll write up the pattern. I am intending to make sock #2 the mirror image of sock #1.

At home in the evenings I have been so incredibly tired. All I have managed to do is work a bit on a Bathtime Blossom dishrag in some pastel colors for the guest bath. Usually I can whip one of those out in not too long, but I am so brain dead that it is taking me longer than usual.

My dad will be in town this weekend, if he manages to make it here (flight canceled due to all the SNOW in his connection town, Dallas). I may have lots of time to work on finishing the orange sweater, or I may be busy on household projects and have no time. We'll see.

I am surviving the new job, though waiting for buses in the rain is already tedious, and my head is full of arcane mainframe commands. But, it's a living! I hope to have more to report next week!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Wandering Melody Socks

Wandering Melody Socks, Front
Originally uploaded by sunasak
I know I should have finished the orange sweater or started Garden Path Sock #2, but I had this idea of what I wanted to do on this sock, and I kept wanting to see how it came out. So, knit, knit, knit I did until suddenly today I was finished with the prototype you see here.

I call them Wandering Melody because, as I mentioned earlier in the week, they are made with lovely Jojoland Melody yarn, and there is a wandering YO that meanders across the front of the sock, around the back, and back up the front. In between where the YOs cross, there is a series of 6-stitch cables, with ten rows between cables. I did the socks top down, starting with a figure 8 cast on (I think--I may have tried the backward loop cast-on method, but that was DAYS ago, so I forget). The heel is short-row, for no other reason than I felt like doing it that way, but also because I thought perhaps the heel flap would detract from the YOs.

I kept going and going on the leg, because I didn't want to end the sock until the YO pattern had crossed the cable. Luckily it finally did, and there was enough yarn on the ball to do plenty of 2x2 ribbing.

My favorite part of the sock is the bind off. I wanted something really stretchy, since this is a tall sock that goes to the widest part of my calf (by the way, it looks artificially wide due to the perspective in the photos--I had to take them all myself). I never liked the look of socks that are done with the technique of increasing every other stitch then binding off. So I tried increasing by knitting into the front and back after every second knit stitch in the K2 P2 ribbing. The increase looks like a purl, thanks to the bar, so it blends in well. Then I decreased loosely on the following row. WOW, it is a nice method! The socks don't frill when I am not wearing them (just a teeny bit) and they stretch beautifully at the top. I am proud of this idea, though I am sure someone else has done it before!

I am not sure when I'll post again--not only do I start the new job tomorrow, but I have a long community choir rehearsal. It may take me a while to find a new routine, OK?