Sunday, December 28, 2008

Where was I?

It looks like family and friends and the xmas holidays take precedence over blogging, not just here but at many blogs around the world. Hope everyone is enjoying their respite.

Not much knitting has been happening lately, either. I was intrigued by a chapter in the Yarn Harlot's book Free Range Knitter where she describes going off into the middle of nowhere to finish some writing. She took a bit of knitting with her, anticipating lots of down time when not actively working, but much to her surprise, she did not knit all that much. Which raises the question of why we knit when we knit? I truly enjoy knitting, but sometimes I think I use it as an excuse to avoid other things that need my attention. It's a pretty good excuse, too, because it's an activity that actually produces something.

And speaking of Yarn Harlot, look what I got from my SO for xmas:

Now I have to toddle off to bed because, even though I am on vacation this week, I have scheduled something almost every day. Tomorrow is a morning teeth cleaning and an afternoon furnace cleaning.

Monday, December 22, 2008

In Progress

Last week, instead of finishing up an existing WIP, I started something entirely new.

This is a Booga Bag, from Black Sheep Bags. I didn't have three skeins of Noro Kureyon, so I knit the bottom and a few rounds from black Cascade 220, an idea I got from Shea. It's ready for felting, which I have never done before. Wish me luck!

And Wisp and I are getting along these days (knock on wood).

This project requires good light and strict attention to detail. Every stitch is counted, every row checked off. It is about half done. And I'm feeling comfortable enough with the Kidsilk Haze that I am contemplating more projects with it. (Famous last words!)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It happened again

I ran out of yarn while knitting a pair of socks. Again! Fortunately, I had not grafted the toe of sock 1 yet, so I was able to frog back and divvy up the remaining yarn between the two.

About a yard of yarn remained for grafting.

These are for Mr. Skinnylegs, so they felt tight on me. And short. Blocking to the rescue.

Pattern: Magic Stripe Socks from Lion Brand
Yarn: Schaefer Yarn Lola in "Toni Morrison"
Needles: US2
Modifications: Ribbed the legs and the instep for a better fit

The heel stitches for this pattern create a very dense fabric that I like. And I don't know why I ran out of yarn, because Lola is a 4oz skein. Does ribbing really use up that much more yarn?

Side note: I like to knit both socks at the same time on DPNs. My two sets of US2 DPNs are not from the same manufacturer, though, and are not the same size. They both fit the US2 hole in my needle sizer, but the naked eye can see they are not identical. Hence, I knit these one sock at a time. If I had been knitting both socks at the same time, I might have realized sooner that there was going to be yarn shortage.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I Must Be Getting Old

Wisp is kicking my butt.

Several years ago I gave up on counted cross stitch because of my aging eyesight. Now I may have to give up on Kidsilk Haze.

But not yet. The above two gaps weren't the first boo-boo's on this scarf, though, so I frogged and began anew.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

No Mas

I think I am done with neck warmers for now.

These two make four in all, two in Noro Silk Garden, the one above in Nashua Handknits Snowbird (which looks surprisingly like this one) and the one below in Autunno.

At some point, I tried on the Snowbird neck warmer and came to the conclusion that 50g of yarn is a bit stingy. I used up yarn leftover from the Pine Cone scarf for the other one, hence it is a bit more generous.

I would like to make myself a neck warmer, to wear when walking in the winter because the cold air makes my lungs ache. In my fantasy world, I could pull the neck warmer up over my mouth and warm the air by breathing through the wool. But that neck warmer can wait, because I am a little sick of them right now.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I Swoon

The other day I mentioned my own personal stimulus package involving yarn on the one hand and books on the other. Besides some xmas gifts, I purchased three books for myself from Amazon.

First up, two by Barbara Walker.

I have been thinking about knitting a blanket for my queen-sized bed but feared I could not stick with a project that big. With the Learn-to-Knit-Afghan Book, said blanket will feel like 63 little projects. Heh. I can do that. Just look at the "FO's in 2008" in the side bar. Of course, nothing else may get done in 2009.

But if I do decide to knit something other than blanket, I can knit it top down, with the help of this book.

Yes, I know I talk about knitting socks toe up, but really, everything else should be knit top down, dontcha think? And without seams, if possible.

Now, on to the swooning.

I liked the first M-D book, but this one has me in a dead faint. Coats! Rugs! Swiffer covers! Little girl dresses and big boy sweaters! Cozies for cardigans! Wearable poetry, for god's sake! But what has absolutely slayed me are the knitted jeans, made from denim yarn, complete with authentic stitchery.

Ann and Kay, you are killing me.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

That's Better

As you may recall, I was trying my hand at the 1x1 ribbed Noro Silk Garden scarf that everyone has been raving about. As you may also recall, I was not loving the results. Somehow I had picked two colorways that did not play well together. Also, I did not purchase enough yarn for a complete scarf. Not feeling inclined to throw good money after bad, I separated the squabbling colorways and made two neck warmers instead.

Now I am enchanted with the results.

Just like some creatures of the feline persuasion need to be in single-cat households, these colorways look their best going solo.

Pattern: Neck warmer from Knitty Keen
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden (I've lost the ball bands so I don't know the colorways)
Needles: US7 circs
Modifications: Cast on with a 1x1 ribbed long tail cast-on, knit until the yarn is almost gone, bound off with EZ's sewn bind off as described at knitty

This is the same pattern I used for a previous neck warmer and is so easy and quick to knit that I am doing a little stash busting by rounding up stray 50g worsted weight skeins and converting them to neck warmers. These will be great to have on hand should the sudden need arise for a little xmas present.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Men in Knits

Knitting Daily conducted a survey a while back that asked, "What do men want in a sweater?" To quote from the results:

The Perfect Men's Sweater is a long-sleeved pullover (80%), without a hood (64%). It is dark in color (90%), preferably solid blue (82%). It has minimal texture (68%), although something subtle, such as a bit of ribbing, is acceptable (58%).

Apparently, Tara Jon Manning did not read this survey before published her book Men in Knits, which is subtitled Sweaters to Knit that He WILL Wear.

Let me say first that the book is chock full of lovely sweaters. Lovely textured sweaters. Lovely colorful sweaters. And vests. And cardigans. I would love to knit any of these sweaters. They are gorgeous and interesting and fun.

What I had trouble imagining was any man I know wearing them. So I decided to conduct my own unscientific survey by asking a few men to do the following: peruse the patterns and mark any that 1) you would consider buying for yourself, or 2) you would wear if someone gave it to you. (Oddly enough, I had to assure some of these men that participation in the survey would not lead to their receiving any handknit items from me.)

Male #1 was my SO (who sadly is not destined to ever receive a sweater from me because of the curse of the boyfriend sweater, but I think a vest may be in his future). SO is from a blue collar background but is well read and kind of artsy fartsy, especially regarding color and texture, and is closing in on 60. He marked a surprisingly variety of items, eight in all, including pullovers, cardigans, and vests. I was a little surprised and wondering if my premise was ill founded.

Male #2 was a co-worker, formerly in the military, very Republican (but hates GW), and a history buff in his 50's. He picked only two items, a surprisingly busy Aran cardigan and a pullover with colorwork. He also admitted that he rarely wears sweaters.

Male #3 was another co-worker, a newly minted AARP member, rather red in the neck but kind to animals (he once twisted his ankle rescuing a turtle from becoming road kill). He also does not wear sweaters much, but picked three items, two of them busy Arans.

Male #4 was yet another co-worker, yet another non-sweater wearing middle aged guy but left leaning and very left brained. He picked three items, one of which was a busy Aran.

Males #5 and #6 were supposed to be my son and son-in-law, both of whom escaped before I could corner them, but my daughter offered to pick for them, assured she would know what they would wear. She picked nothing.

So. What conclusions could one draw from my survey? I think if the knitter is inclined to stray from the results of the Knitting Daily survey, an Aran sweater is a safe bet, unless the recipient is under 30.

Or do what I do: Ask before knitting.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

That Darn Internet

I've been looking for what appears not to exists: DK weight self-striping superwash sock yarn in manly colors. DK weight because xmas is rapidly closing in on us, self-striping because the sock pattern will be generic and I need some entertainment to see me through, we know why superwash, and manly colors because the socks will be for a man. Not an easy bill to fill.

But I did find DK weight superwash yarn in manly colors that, while not self-striping, will still amuse, at Simply Socks.

Schaefer Yarn Lola in "Toni Morrison". It is so lovely, I could not wait to cast on the socks.

And, since I could think of at least one other man who needs another pair of socks, I also bought "Empress Wu Zhao".

All fine and good. But then I made the mistake of checking out the sale items and wound up adding some Noro Kureyon Sock (I did not pick the colorway because that was the deal - potluck)...

... and also Cherry Tree Hill in "Island Red".

The next thing I knew, I had free shipping.

Lesson was not learned because within 24 hours I was also at Amazon, but we'll discuss that economic stimulus package on another day.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Wear Your Sitcom Chic to Work Day

Post blocking, I slipped on Sitcom Chic the other night and said to myself, "Huh. I knit me a sweater." Not the first one, but the first one I feel comfortable wearing in public.

Pattern: Sitcom Chic from knitty
Yarn: Classic Elite Four Seasons
Needles: US 7 for most of it, US3 for the ribbing and edging (because I didn't have US4 circs).
Modifications: Made the body and sleeves longer, and in the process made them a little bigger around; omitted button/button loop (because I don't have any good buttons for this sweater)

I really like this yarn - 70% cotton, 30% wool. It is not as stiff as cotton and knits into a nice dense fabric, which makes it surprisingly warm. It blocks well, too.

Since my yarn choice deviated from the yarn recommended by the pattern, I calculated how much I needed by yardage. After all, I had seen this done in yarn stores. But it might have been a ploy to sell more yarn, as I have over SEVEN 50g skeins left over. Since it is such an intense color, I'm not sure what I will do with it.

Thursday I wore my new sweater to work, but had to go begging for compliments. One of my knitting cohorts has been "made redundant", another fellow knitter was out sick, a third was on the phone, etc. While chatting with the cashier in the cafeteria, I pointed out my new hand knit sweater, then mistook her polite interest for more and started waxing poetic about learning to spin. As her eyes glazed over, my supervisor stepped up beside me in line. He thinks I also churn butter. The cashier suggested I could add adobe brick making to my repertoire of skills. Ha. Ha.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Darn socks

Another FO, another finally finished FO.

Pattern: Hedgerow socks from Knitter's Review
Yarn: Yarn Daze in Raspberry
Needle size: US1
Modifications: Increased girth by one pattern repeat, leg length by one inch

I thought I had enough yarn to make these bigger, but the result is I ran out of yarn. Consequently, the feet are really short, too short for me. Blocking makes them wearable by my daughter. (You're welcome, dear.)

See? This is why I need to learn to knit socks toe up.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Xmas shopping, sort of

If you need some individual attention, Thanksgiving weekend is a good time to visit your LYS. I hit all two of them on Saturday, and was the only shopper there.

LYS #1 didn't have anything on my shopping list, but felt compelled to make a pity purchase, two skeins of Noro Silk Garden. I wanted to see what the big deal was about the striped 1x1 ribbed scarves "everyone" is knitting with this yarn, alternating colorways.

So far, I'm not in love with the colorways I picked. The dark blue belched green from the center pull skein, the mauve spit out gold and pink. And I think I was supposed to by four skeins, not two, to complete a scarf. We'll see how this goes.

LYS #2 had the Addi Turbo Lace needles I wanted, in US8, for knitting Kidsilk Haze.

I started Wisp on Sunday, and these worked better than anything else I tried. I'm not loving Kidsilk Haze, either, but I viewed some finished Wisps on Ravelry and am inspired to continue.

Then, in the interest of learning to knit socks toe up, I purchased some superwash worsted.

My plan is to practice toe up with worsted, then DK, and finally fingering. I can wear these red red socks with my red, red, red sweater. Should be comfy.