Sunday, May 31, 2009

Nice to Meet Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

As I mentioned on Thursday, we went to see "The Yarn Harlot" speak at BookPeople. I am glad that it wasn't as crowded as the last time she came (from what I heard--I couldn't come that time). I'm also really glad that Tina drove, since she has even better parking luck than I do, and we got a great spot.

We hiked right on up to the third floor, past the people who grabbed the best seats, and enjoyed a lovely little reception that the Hill Country Weavers folks put on. (That's blurry Tina and me, enjoying the stuff.) The food was great, and I'll tell you one thing--there are a nice bunch of knitters in the Austin area! Each yarn shop was allowed to send a few of their workers or customers, which means I got to see a lot of people I don't get to see very often (like blogger Sally and designer/blogger Birdy (who I somehow didn't get a photo of...darn!).

This is me and Sally, though her camera has better color correction than mine and her photo looks better.

We also saw old friends and met a new one! This is Alla, Cindy and me with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. I don't know how she manages to be so gracious and attentive to so many different people on these book tours, and it could not have been a great day for her--she was all stuffed up and had been dealing with the Sock Summit stuff for two days. I now, of course, feel REALLY sorry for her, since I've heard how mean some people were about the fact that they couldn't get in for one reason or another.

I did have a nice chat with her (right after saying I was too shy to go talk to her), about an organization we both used to belong to, and mutual friends in the Ontario birthing and breastfeeding community. I thanked her for how she portrays her children, parenting, and love of babies in her blog. Seeing someone who shares a philosophy with me putting it out so publicly, yet subtly. I hope she influences a lot of young knitters.

We had plenty of time to chat. I caught up with some friends I hadn't seen in a long time (people who no longer visit our yarn shop, people I knew from the knitting guild, etc.), networked and really got a lot out of talking to all kinds of knitters, not just the famous author! The photo above is just Cindy and chatting--people kept on knitting the whole time. What a fine culture.
Hey, and did I mention babies earlier? There were plenty for Stephanie to enjoy, but I got to enjoy one in particular, and she enjoyed me right back. Is that not a sweet face? She liked me! Goodness gracious, that was a charming baby for one so young. She had everyone in her spell. If you read the comments on the last blog entry, you'll know that KnitterGran said I might see her daughter and granddaughter, and that's them! I'm hoping we will see each other again, especially when KnitterGran comes to town. See, told you there were lots of nice people.

And yes, eventually we went to hear Stephanie talk. Every blogger in town has already posted a bunch of photos of this, so I am not going overboard. Before the talk, Spike Gillespie (local celebrity humorous writer, radio commenter AND knitter) thanked all the yarn shops and said nice stuff about each of them, even our little suburban oasis! And then we all got to thoroughly enjoy a well-crafted, humorous and informative talk (it would have been more informative if I hadn't read a lot of the same research she had read). I had a good time listening, regardless, and am very glad she's willing to do these tours.

Of course, there weren't enough seats, so we ended up sitting on a table. That's OK. There were nice knitters there! It is hard to convince stores that there really are that many knitters willing to come out on a weeknight. There would have been more people on a weekend, for sure, and all the end of school events weren't going on.

Thanks to Stephanie for visiting and to the book store for hosting!

In Other News

After networking with Susan from the Knitting Guild, I visited the Knit Wits, who meet at the library near Westlake High School on Fridays. It was really fun to meet some new knitters. They had a range from some very elderly ladies to new mothers. I loved seeing all their projects and listening to all their news. A whole new set of folks. Mostly I talked to two women I'd met when I went to the guild meetings (before I was teaching knitting on Saturdays). It was funny to see how much we had in common in our career paths, in addition to knitting.

Also we got new yarn at the LYS, which has been fun. Everyone got all excited about the sock yarn, laceweight yarn and the Misti Alpaca we are going to use in our knit-along. I am happy to see the excitement.

Tomorrow I will post about knitting progress!

Amended: I realized I was quite tired when I wrote this and forgot a couple of things, like saying WHO I saw, linking to people and places, and thanking the photographers (Cindy and Tina, because I forgot my camera). I will add links tomorrow.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Making Lemons Out of Lemonade, Maybe. Organic.

As I have mentioned, the job I got that seemed like it would be so much fun and so lucritive has turned into a stressful system of sitting around waiting for something, then being asked to work 12 hour days with no warning. Not ideal. But, it pays pretty well and at the moment I have nothing else, so I am going with that. While applying for other jobs in a brisk manner, I figure I can also do something else to make money. So I have churned out these.
What you see are coasters, in a pattern called Springtime Coasters on Ravelry. The best thing about them is that the author gives permission to resell them anywhere but online, so I am going to check out a few local boutiques and stores to see if I can sell some there. The ones you see are all made from undyed organic cotton. Probably not the most cost-effective thing to make in the long run, since the brown and green was quite costly (it was $16 in yarn to make the 8 coasters). But, since I had the stuff already, it's no additional investment. The white ones are in a thinner yarn, so they are smaller, but still plenty big enough to be coasters. I think I'll get at least 8 out of that ball of Rowan cotton. The colored yarn is Peru Naturtex Partners Pakucho Organic Cotton, which I got last year when we visited Stonehill Fibers in Fredericksburg.

This is a quick and easy pattern. Pat at the yarn shop has been using up her leftover cotton to make some to sell there. No, we are not competing. Plenty of coasters for all.
The natural colored cotton is certainly not very "springtime" looking, but would fit in with a lot of people's decors, and I know here in Austin organic sells well. Too bad I will probably be selling in Round Rock or Cedar's not quite so organic in the suburbs.
This one I did sort of on a dare. Pat wanted to know if I could do one in crochet cotton, so I did. This one is just 2" across and I used it as a clothing decoration yesterday. I think I'll try to make a few with the thread doubled. Single is just too fussy and starts to hurt my arm, which is why I don't crochet too much in the first place.

My other bright idea was to make some fingerless mitts to sell. Darn that Pat, she had the same idea. At least I am using a different pattern. I am modifying an idea I saw online so I can resell them. I have a lot of leftover worsted that would easily make these. The above is some Cascade 220 superwash. I had a very hard time getting a photo of this that was not blurry. I guess I can't hold my arm and a camera with both of them still at the same time.

I'll feel a little better about not having work if I feel productive. And this is better than cleaning out the closets.

Tonight should be fun. The Yarn Harlot is here, and I get to go with Tina to the pre-event gathering (thanks to the LYS). That should be real nice. I know a lot of very chatty and extroverted people I know will be there, so I doubt I'll get a chance to talk to her, but I'd sure like to thank her for showcasing the parenting philosophy I adhere to and her love of babies--she is a good influence on modern young women, even if it's subtle and subliminal.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Doesn't Look Like Much...

It doesn't appear that much knitting has gotten done since I last posted, but there were two days in which I worked so much that practically NO knitting got done. It's feast or famine at the ole job these days. But really, working on three socks at once means none of them go really quickly.

Above is one of the Air Raid socks (the other one is hiding). Doing socks two at a time seems to go more slowly, to me. So much adjusting of needles. And invariably I get to the heel when I don't have any handy instructions to refer to, so I pick up gusset stitches at the wrong spot and end up with some gusset stitches on the instep half of the needles. That happened again, so I tried to use another needle as a holder to get back on track, and ended up with each sock separated! I re-joined the conjoined twins and am back on track.

The color in the above photo is more accurate than the other one I posted. This is VERY bright yarn! Feels great, though. I think I like Panda Silk best, but Panda Cotton is very nice, too.

Here's how far I am on the Hopscotch socks on size 2 needles. I am getting by just knitting the foot stitches tightly, rather than doing size 0 on the foot and 2 on the instep. This is mainly because I can't find my metal size 0 KnitPicks needle, and the wooden one broke. I am ordering another one. I don't mind paying--I broke it myself. I think this is one darned handsome sock! It takes a while to do all the slip stitches, but sure is worth it for the effect. I think it's stunning.

And here is a close-up of the stitch pattern. It looks so nice. I have always loved this pattern, and making it a rib by adding the purl after each repeat is a very nice touch. Such a simple but effective technique!

What's Next?

I had intended to work on the entrelac shawl next, but there are two reasons it will need to wait.

First, my LYS is having a Knit-a-long of the Aeolian shawl from the current Knitty, and to support them, I ordered yarn to make it along with them. I'm actually going to use a colorway I already have, and save what I buy for something else, but I want to support the shop in these trying times, and they don't have any other yarn I need right now. Alla, the Lace Queen, made a sample and it looks lovely. Nupps abound. Her shawl is interesting because she was using scrap yarn and ran out one row before the bind off. She found a mohair that exactly matched her main yarn, and it actually looks on purpose--very pretty!

Second, I am doing a barter with a friend from church. She is making a quilt/wall hanging to put in our media room (she's done with the top), and I said I'd make a vest for her. I hadn't figured out a pattern, but now I have. WHOA did I find a cute pattern on Ravelry yesterday! It's called the Lady Jane Vest, and it's got all sorts of features I would enjoy making. Cables, ribs, lack of seams...yeah. Look it up on Ravelry--there are a couple of photos that really show how nice it looks on different people there. I am going to make hers out of KnitPicks Comfy, but have not decided whether to shell out the bucks for the fancy cotton/seacell yarn called for in the pattern or just use the Comfy. (A few minutes have passed.) I know the answer to that dilemma now. I just found the FibraNatura Mermaid yarn called for in the pattern on sale for $7 a skein rather than more like $11, so I am getting the cotton, silk and seacell stuff for me! I just ordered it in purple. I also got a weird sock yarn and a second skein of the colorway I already have one of in Noro Kureyon sock so I can make a shawl.

I haven't ordered yarn in so long that it feels very decadent.

OK, must head to the LYS. Thanks for all your recent comments!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Flit 'n Float Finale

We have photos (sort of) of the Flit 'n Float scarf to enjoy. It is very hard to photograph an entire scarf, and I was not having luck with my artsy shots. But, you'll get the idea.

This is the best view, I guess. It is quite pretty and feels very nice to the touch. I am a bit disappointed that it still loves to curl in. Stockinette. What did I expect? I'm not going to starch it! And it looks fine on, even curling.

This close-up shows a better view of the ruffle. At least I got the picot cast off to lay down and behave a bit.
I took some artistic photos in a tree with back lighting. These colors are very true, and it looks pretty with the sun coming through.

While this one ends up over-exposed to the max, you can really see the lace patterning, so I like it for that reason. I don't know if this is a keeper or a gift. It took 4 ounces of my yarn, which means I still have over half the skein left. That is enough for socks or another nice scarf! Of course, now I wish I had made a triangular shawl with it. Oh well. Glad I tried this project since I know the designer!

Both pairs of socks are moving along nicely. The Hopscotch ones now fit just fine and I am close to the heel, and I am ready to do the heel on the Air Raid pair. They are going to be short, for summer, so I am doing the heel at around 4".

Off to the yarn shop as soon as the air conditioning repair guy leaves. Just what we need with my new job not panning out very well--more expenses, sigh. I wish there were a way to earn enough to make a dent in the expenses with knitting, but no one is making a living with their knitting except the Yarn Harlot! Everyone else has "real" jobs or is retired! Or is lucky enough to have a spouse who makes enough to live on.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hopscotch and Air Raid Sockliness

Most of my weekend knitting involved socks. But, I did stick Flit 'n Float on wires and managed to fit it on the bed to block it. It's still drying, so maybe tomorrow I'll have that Finished Object photo of that. It looks so much better already--I have to say that its finished state resembled some kind of tropical constrictor snake or something. A big ole green stockinette tube. I sure hope it stays flat after it dries! And I hope the ruffles look OK. The bind-off turned up rather unattractively, but I think I smooshed it down well enough.

Above you see a surprise project. I haven't had two pairs of socks on the needles in over a year. But, the other socks take a bit of concentration, plus, as I mentioned in the last entry, I decided I need more "summer" socks. So, this very bright colorway of Panda Cotton jumped off the shelf to become Fiery Air Raid. The yarn is actually a LOT brighter than it came out. I could make it either so bright it hurt your eyes, or this overly tame color correction. Maybe the next time I photograph it I'll get it in natural light and it will look right.

You can't see the little "bombs" in the sock, but they are there. When I have more done, I'll stick it on a foot! The pattern is just great. Lots of fun and easy to remember. Yay to Emily!

I must report that I love this yarn. I love bamboo, and mixing it with cotton is just the best. The elastic isn't as pronounced as in some other yarns with it, so I am happy as can be. The yarn does unravel a bit (partly my fault because I had to rewind one ball after I'd started, which twisted it). But, mostly it's a dream to work on, and I know I'll enjoy these under my sneakers and other summer shoes.

And here's yarn I am loving, but a sadly doomed sock. I have been using my 00s for my last couple of socks. As you recall the last ones came out a bit large. These are the opposite. And you can guess why--it's a slip stitch pattern, and those do tend to draw in. I could get these on, but even on the foot part, it was "hugging" a bit too much. I'd increased the body to 72 stitches, but that hadn't helped. So...I have started the second sock on large size 1s, and I think I can have 64 stitches. The pattern suggests maybe doing the heels and toes in a smaller needle, and that makes sense to me. I can haul out a 0 for those parts.

I did like how the colors were moving around (partly caused by me trying to knit more loosely toward the end there). I have a feeling the revised version will be more like the usual more stripey effect I tend to get with Lorna's Laces colors, but I think that is more the effect I'd hoped for, anyway. Again, the color is Gone Fishin', which was the color of the month in September of last year. I have noticed that one skein's reddish color is a bit more vibrant than the other, but I don't think this will be a problem. I don't know how the LL gang manages to get them as close as they do, with the quantities they make!

OK, more knitting today--until my job picks up or I get another one, I'll be making more progress than usual. I'll also move along on the vest.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Bridget Is a Bridget!

After a lot of whining, here is the finished Bridget cardigan.

I am relieved that she came out fitting so well. I'm not sure if I really like how the bottom bells out, but that's what the pattern told it to do! I do like how the shawl collar looks (after reattaching it three times, I am especially glad it came out good), and I like the sleeve length.

I love how the yarn is interesting but not distracting. That is what I wanted. I think this will go with almost anything I want to wear it with! Quite the contrast from that Kauni cardigan, huh?

Everyone who sees it gets all excited about the buttons. Invariably they ask how I got them to match so well, so I get to gleefully recount how Georgia made them to match exactly, and I get to brag about how talented she is, a thing I have been doing for nearly 30 years. Wow, I'm old. It is amazing what polymer clay can do in the hands of someone with some training. These do NOT look like the clunky beads I have made!

And one more parting shot so you can see the back. And my extremely red nails. I am really looking forward to wearing this cardigan often in the fall. Actually, a cool front has come through (yay, 'cause our upstairs air conditioning unit went out), so I think I will wear it to dinner at friends' house tonight! It will get down into the 50s, I think (sorry Trine/Yvonne/Umme and any other Europeans/Asians, I am a crummy temperature converter).

I actually finished the Flit 'n Float scarf today at the LYS while I helped Sue Ellyn on her first sock (with interesting bumps in that process!). I will get to blocking on that one as soon as I don't have a headache. So, soon there will be another pretty thing to decorate the blog with! By the way, Sue Ellyn makes wonderful soap and gave me some minty/rosemary stuff that I can't stop sniffing!

I keep wanting to wear my Converse sneakers but not wear wool socks. This means I need to make more summer socks. I have some Panda Cotton staring at me, so I may be alternating working on socks with that and continuing on my Hopscotch socks (photo to come on that).

What pattern will I use? I may try this one that Emily just posted, called Air Raid Socks. They are short and airy, so would be good for summer. I had thought of using the left-over yarn from Flit 'n Float to make them, but I weighed what I have left, and there is 4 ounces on the main skein, plus quite a bit on the second skein (remember, the yarn came with over 800 yards), so I think I can make a big pair with the sumptuous green Nyoni.

Sigh, so much to knit. But that is not a bad problem to have!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Progress Is Progressing

Here you go, proof that I finished the On Hold socks. They sure feel good. The second one wasn't quite as big as the first, which means maybe I was overly relaxed with the first one, or something.

I really like the colors, which aren't my usual. They look awesome with my pink Birkenstocks, though, and a new pink shirt I got. I know I will wear them a lot. One thing about the wool, though, is wherever it rubbed my shoe, it's already fuzzing up. So I will be careful with them.

And what you see below is a big relief: Bridget blocking. Thank goodness. I managed to sew the sleeves in fairly successfully and I think the buttons look great. Now I am waiting the three days it will take for the darn thing to dry. I turned it over last night so it can dry on the other side.

I'm really glad to be finished with this project. It went through so many ups and downs, from having to totally re-do the back to running out of yarn...just a lot of challenges. I believe it is blocking a bit bigger than it was unblocked, which means it should be a good fit. Fingers are crossed. Maybe tomorrow I will have a photo of it on me to share!

So, I am moving on. I did start the Hopscotch socks yesterday and love the yarn, Gone Fishin', the September 2008 Lorna's Laces limited edition. I think the slip stitch pattern is doing a pretty good job of mottling the colors--I got far enough to see it start to look like a textured ribbing, which is good. But then I got a giant urge to work on my Flit 'n Float scarf again. I zoomed through a couple of charts, and now am almost to my favorite section, the holey part before the ruffle. Since I STILL don't have any work to do, I predict I will get a bit more done on that today.

I officially gave up on using the extremely thin JoJoland yarn for the Diann shawl. I think I'm going to switch to my other JoJoland sock weight yarn on it. That will be pretty--it is reds and blues, as I recall. I can make the shawl really big with it. But, that will NOT get started until I finish Flit 'n Float. I feel very virtuous using stash, even for new projects I come up with. But, I WILL have to finish that darned Maelstrom shawl...I am running out of other works in progress to finish!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Got That Pattern!

Thanks to my friend who reads this blog, I found the link to the people who publish the Hopscotch Socks, Wildhorse Farms. I have made more than one of Lisa Parker's designs and like them--she's really good at coming up with textured ones that are great with hand dyed yarns. So, yay, I got the Hopscotch one and another one, Rococo Socks, too. I guess I'd better finish that tedious mattress stitch on the sleeves on Bridget and get those other done, huh!

Off to lunch with my knitting friend Deana and some time at the yarn shop--hoping to get Bridget done there!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Socky Weekend

Hi there. No blogging over the weekend, but that means I was away from the computer, so there was more time for knitting!

Here's how much of the second On Hold sock I got done! That was done between noon on Saturday and about 4 pm on Sunday, so not too bad. We went to see Lee's dad, so there was a lot of knitting on the way there and back, and plenty of knitting time listening to him talk, and plenty of time to knit driving him to Victoria to eat in a real restaurant. The photo is rather washed out, but there are slightly better ones below.

Here's the first sock, all finished. I had to bind it off twice, so I seem to have gotten into some bad bind-off habit. I am now just hoping I have enough yarn for the second sock. I didn't realize this fancy yarn had fewer yards than most sock yarns, and I made this sock pretty long. Well, I usually have a LOT left over in normal yarn, so I am keeping my hopes up. I'll know soon!

This side view shows how the side patterning goes through the ribbing, and has a little glimpse of the heel. I love it, but I think I missed picking up a wrap, so there is a little hole. Well, no one looks at the bottoms of my feet, so I think I will be OK. I did the pattern on the backs of the socks, even though Wendy doesn't have you do that in the pattern. I just like doing the lace.

I already know what sock I want to make next. I saw it on Emily's blog last week. They are called Hopscotch Socks, and they really do good things to regularly patterned hand-dyed socks, like Lorna's Laces. However, it looks like I'll have to order the pattern, and I don't have the urge to spend as much on shipping something as it costs to buy the item. Guess I'll wait until I need some yarn. Boo hoo. I'll find something fun in the Cookie A. book or something, instead.

Now that I have the yarn (same dye lot, woo) I am going to finish Bridget tonight, I hope, then get cracking on finishing that vest and the Flit and Float! Plenty to do that isn't socks.

Let's hope I have something REALLY interesting to share next time!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Look, a Vest!

When I am not knitting on that pretty sock of mine, I am chugging along on this vest. It's name is Mora, by the way. I call it Poetic Mora, since the yarn is Poems. Obviously creativity is in short supply with me right now.

I like how it is mostly fairly subtle colors--lots of shades of navy and dark green. The garter stitch ribbing combined with the v-shape is really pulling it in. I can now see why the lady in the Ravelry photo wearing hers looked so much like Barbie. I do hope I end up with something I can wear! If not, well, I will have a very nice present for a smaller person, I guess! I am enjoying the knitting, though I have to look at the instructions fairly often due to the shaping in it. Not sure WHY it has to hug me any tighter at the waist, but it thinks it does!

Hmm, my glasses case is in that photo. I think that's the last time I saw my special computer glasses, when I was using them to hold down the curling edge on that vest. I should look on that couch, huh!

I'm working on the second half now, but I have to admit I love the way the On Hold socks feel so much that they are all I really want to work on. That Fleece Artist Blue face Leicester stuff is just plain comfy. My feet want the socks on them! So I guess I had better get to knitting on them! After that, I need to finish the Flit 'n Float scarf so I will have it to give as a gift or maybe wear. I am already planning things to do with the yarn left over from that project!

Thanks for all the comments on the last post. It is really good to hear from you all. I am hoping things have settled down for a bit and I will have regular blogging time again. I just have to put my web design software on the computer and then I think I can do everything I need to do on my giant new one. Woo hoo!

I hope your spring is going well!

PS: I realized I said I'd tell you when the pattern to that lovely Dianna shawl I posted about a couple of weeks ago was ready, and I forgot to in the busy-ness of last week. Anyway, it can be obtained as a free Ravelry PDF, so go get it. I love how its instructions tell you it is not gonna teach you entrelac. The author says, "If you want to learn this technique, Google
is your friend." That's right, darn it! As for me, well, I LOVE entrelac!!! Guess what my next non-garment project will be!!!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Good News for Bridget

Yeah, I posted last night, but I just wanted to let you know that I got an email this morning from the Plain & Fancy Wool people and they found a skein of the same dye lot for Bridget, so I will be able to finish my cardigan! Just in time for sweltering weather, but that is fine. At least it was not a waste of time! Woo!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Knitting Stuff!

Here's the sock I have been working on when not battling with my lovely new computer, with the 17" screen and high resolution display. The yarn is so pretty. It's Fleece Artist Blue face Leicester sock yarn. I am knitting it with the same needles that I used on the Charybdis socks, but these are much bigger! The yarn doesn't seem much thicker than the Araucania, but it sure is knitting wider! As you can see in the pictures, I am wearing my first sock over the Charybdis. But, it will be fine once I wear it, and I love, love the way this yarn feels.

Oh, the yarn is an interesting kind of soft! And it has a bit of hairiness that you can see in the full size photos. The colors are so soft and sweet. I do think they overly match my skin tone, but who looks at my legs, anyway?

I also like the pattern just fine. It is not too boring, not too hard, and I do so enjoy Wendy Johnson's toe up heels. I'm actually at the point where the heel is done and I am going up the leg, but don't have a photo of that yet. Sigh, I am just happy that I was able to get some sort of photo editing software on here, get the Internet working, and get a blog entry done!

It's been a fine knitting spell lately, though. I have enjoyed a new email list I am on and enjoyed hanging around with yarn shop friends a bit more than usual. Everyone is really being kind and sweet to each other. Pilar's husband threw her a surprise party and some of us went to that. And Jennifer had her baby today! So now all that stuff I knitted has actual babies to enjoy it! Life's good in knitting land!

Now we just have to get my nice new job to settle down and not be quite so intense, so I can get back to blogging and more important, reading blogs! I have gotten a bit behind, but don't worry, I'll catch up. Hi to all my new readers, by the way.

Next entry I'll show you how the first half of my vest came out.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Post to Come!

Sorry folks, been busy, at least some of the time with knitting or knitting-related activities. Also I have been dealing with a new job, a good one but a busy one, and I have a cool new computer that I am still setting up.

I have a sock to show you, plus lots of progress on my Poem vest.

More soon, when I can get to my photos...