Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Feels Like Monday

The first day back at work after a three-day weekend is always a shock to the system. The alarm clock, the traffic, the fluorescent lighting. Ugh.

Per usual, I trudged into the building with my knitting bag, as I knit during lunch. But when lunchtime rolled around, I discovered I did not have the pattern for the current dishcloth project with me and I didn't feel like starting the SnB Om Yoga Mat Bag and I was wise enough not to bring the lace top, so I began assembling a UFO, a mango-colored baby hoodie. Ugh.

Sleeve #1 went on okay, so I celebrated with corn chowder and a salad. Then I tried seaming the sleeve. The garter stitch sleeve. The increasing rows sleeve. The sleeve where the increases should have been a stitch or two further in from the edge. I tried to pick up the smiles on the right and the frowns on the left, but the increases got in the way. Trusting the magic of the mattress stitch, I pulled the yarn tight and watched the sleeve seam pucker. Ugh.

The voices in my head started arguing: It's only a seam! It looks like shit. No one will notice! You will. Nobody will die if this seam is puckered! But you will wake at 3am with that seam on your mind and a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach.

Okay. I decided to take out the seam, but the splitty Lion Brand Microspun yarn did not cooperate. Even though I still had knitting time left to my lunch hour, I just had to set the whole thing aside. Just step away from the yarn.

Back home at the end of the day, I picked up the lace top, thinking I had time to do a row or two before my walk. The swatch I knit had a dropped stitch in it, and today I discovered the likely culprit: the k2tog in row 10 of the lace pattern, which is nearly impossible to pick up. I knitted about a quarter of the row before it was time to quit (in more ways than one).

Some days knit doesn't pay.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Disordered Life

Life, I have noticed, does not feel sequential to me. Like a novel, different story lines fade in and out as the days pass by. In this blog, I am trying to create knitting anecdotes from non-consecutive, uncooperative events, which doesn't really work. Maybe I should save the stories for my knitting book (everyone is writing them these days, so why shouldn't I?) and just report my day-to-day progress, such as it is.

Megan's Dishcloths

As has been my dishcloth knitting habit of late, I selected a stitch from The Knitting Stitch Bible and transformed it into a cotton dishcloth made from Lion Brand Lion Cotton, this time in Poppy Red. The stitch pattern was "hearts" which, for some reason, was a bitch to knit, at least in non-stretchy cotton. And I forgot that stitches are taller than they are wide, so instead of squarish, the dishcloth came out rectangular. Were I to knit this one again (and I'm not!), I would space out the hearts to increase the width.

For Megan's second dishcloth (I always seem to knit them in pairs), I used a 9-patch pattern I found here. (Let it be said, when I first saw the Mason-Dixon Knitting book at the library, I did not even crack it open because I assumed from the dorky cover that it would be full of patterns for toilet seat covers and finger puppets. I stand corrected, and as penance, purchased my very own copy and also pay daily visits to their website.) What drew me to this pattern were two things: mitered corners (how do they do that?) and no seaming (how do they do that?) The fun thing about mitered knitting is one starts on the long edges and decreases, so the closer one knits to the point, the faster the knitting goes. (Unlike sweater sleeves knit from the cuff up.) The colors here are Poppy Red and Natural.

Not my Socks?

The executive summary:

  • Pattern: from Sensational Knitted Socks, a four-stitch ribbing, in garter rib

  • Size: women's 11 (don't start)

  • Yarn: Schaefer Yarn "Anne" in some one-of-a-kind colorway

  • These socks look HUGE to me. Before starting to knit, I swatched (otherwise, I would never have purchased the recommended size 1 needles) and I measured my feet against the size chart, and now that the socks are blocked, I measured them against the size chart as well. Yes, all the numbers match, BUT. They. Look. Huge. They feel kind of loose, too, and the ankles bag a bit. And yet, they feel comfy.

    Rarely do I knit something for myself, but I swore these socks were for me. And yet, they don't feel like mine. They feel like they belong to Karen, the instructor at a writing workshop I attended recently. She saw the socks in progress, and exclaimed over the colors, and then I realized that the colors were her colors; they matched her outfits. The rest of the weekend, I kept sneaking peeks at her feet, debating on whether the socks would fit. I think the socks are a bit big for her, too, but given Karen's propensity for going barefoot and her starving-artist lifestyle, I'm thinking she needs them more than I do. We'll see.

    Another reason I felt dissatisfied with the colors is they stockinetted better than they ribbed. And the dark yarn was difficult to work with except in daylight. But this pattern, on size 1 needles, used a lot of yarn; only 17 grams remained, out of a 4 oz. skein. Had the skein been the usual 3 oz. (100 g.) size recommended for a pair of adult socks, I would have run short.

    Three pairs of socks do not make me an expert, but I feel like each pair I have knit so far has been 'way too much of a learning experience. The next pair will be a repeat, of either the Magic Socks pattern or the Ann Norling pattern.

    More (I Must Be Nuts) Lace

    After the swallowtail shawl, I did not think I would ever knit lace again. But I am. And this time I am actually using a lace weight yarn, a mohair (emphasis on hair, as in hairy) and silk blend: Rowan "Kidsilk Haze" in a color called Liqueur, probably because it will drive you to drink.

    I was the only one in the shawl class who did not use such a yarn, and if I had, I would never have finished that shawl. This yarn is like fine, hairy thread. The body of the yarn is barely visible because of the hair, and the hair clings to itself like Velcro, which makes frogging nearly impossible.

    So the plan is to frog and tink as little as possible. (Stop laughing!) And since I have trouble counting above 80 (has nothing to do with the number of toes and fingers I possess - I have a tendency to either skip from 89 to 100 or to count the 80's twice - don't ask me why), I am strategically placing stitch markers every 24 stitches (the pattern repeats every 6 stitches). And I may employ lifelines every 12 rows or so, as the pattern is 12 rows high.

    The pattern is from Glamour Knits and is a fitted top for my daughter. It is designed to wear over a camisole and hug the body. So I was forced to not only knit up a swatch (which was an excellent opportunity to practice the lace stitching) but also soak and block the swatch to see how much it would stretch out. Because lace knitting s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s.

    I had already decided to drop a needle size because this is my usual MO, and the swatch came out very close to the 4" x 4" expectation, but snug enough that I rounded up to size 38.

    Now I am crossing my fingers that this will actually work out in real life.

    Blogger Aside

    I have not been posting lately, so this is the first time I noticed that Blogger automatically saves drafts. What a great idea! Several times this week I have read postings on typepad other blogs where the blogger is complaining about losing a post while editing. Maybe they should learn something from the free blog hoster!

    Tuesday, May 15, 2007

    A Sad Day

    My LYS - the non-chain, locally-owned one with the finer (more expensive) yarns - is closing. Wah! I don't know the why's or wherefore's, but I am a little disgruntled that they did not notify those of us on their mailing list but instead relied on word of mouth (a co-worker left a note on my desk). I'm assuming the problem is money, so they may not have wanted to spend dwindling funds on a mailing. And the word-of-mouth thing seems to be working for them, as the inventory was rather picked over when I arrived this afternoon. I did manage to snatch up some Cascade 220 and some Colinette Cadenza, and I may return for the Rowan Classic Silk Wool DK and some Skacel Addi Turbo needles. After all, it's 25% off. For some reason the Koigu is not on sale, though.

    I'm a little surprised the LYS would be in trouble financially, as I thought they had a good business plan: they didn't just sell yarn, but also their expertise in the form of classes. But it appeared they ran the business manually; for example, receipts were handwritten, which meant inventory data had to be updated by hand as well. Their presence on the web was virtually (HA!) non-existent, too. The quarterly newsletter with the class schedule arrived by snail-mail, and they did not sell online, which limited their customer base.

    Some of the LYS customers are discussing starting their own yarn store, so maybe all is not lost. Hopefully, they won't rely on word-of-mouth to get the news out for their grand opening.

    Meanwhile, a respite from the yardwork courtesy of a healthy thunderstorm is providing me with the opportunity to work on sock #2. I turned the heel tonight (without incident! maybe I am finally getting the hang of this knitting thing) and hope to finish the gusset so I can do some mindless knitting during a meeting tomorrow at work.

    Monday, May 14, 2007

    A Fiber Festival for Kids

    Last Friday my son and I moseyed on up to Salomon's Farm for the Fiber Arts Celebration. Having been to a couple of similar affairs in the past year or so, I expected more of what I have been seeing. But no. This one was definitely geared for the younger set. The field-trip set. The home-schooled set. The dad-has-visitation-this-weekend set.

    The Fiber Arts Celebration at Salomon Farm is a sheep-to-shawl hands-on educational experience that also includes hay wagon rides, a few vendors (no deep-fried dill pickles), and the opportunity to observe a 1930's style farm. The rug rats were having a frenetic time (thus the worried cooing from the alpacas) and theoretically were learning something. Since my son is just shy of 27, we were a little out-of-place; the adults providing the demonstrations ignored us and I was too self-conscious to insist they address our curiousity.

    So, if you have little ones, I recommend this festival, especially if you have the gorgeous weather we had last weekend. If you have wool cravings, though, this is not the place to find relief.

    Friday, May 11, 2007

    Manly in Pink

    Spring has sprung finally, and it is difficult to be online when one can be outside, thus the dearth of postings. And the knitting has been lagging as well, but I haven't abandoned the needles completely. After all, one needs something to do while resting on the deck and listening to the wrens. Just don't leave the knitting outside by itself or it might become someone's nesting material.

    Wool is a little sticky to work with in warm weather, but cotton does not mind slightly sweaty fingers. I knitted up a couple of dishcloths for my son, using non-dishcloth patterns. I chose Lion Cotton "Americana" since red-white-blues seemed less frou-frou, more manly than the other variegated yarns, but I hadn't noticed the pink. He's secure in his masculinity, though, and is not afraid of a little girly color.

    Washcloth #1 is based on the "Diagonal Pattern Baby Blanket" (free on the Lion Brand website). It is all garter stitch except for the yo's and k2tog's to create the border.

    Washcloth #2 is all linen stitch, which I learned from a pattern in my 2007 Pattern-A-Day Knitting Calendar (the April 17th entry). This produced a stiffer, denser fabric.

    Yesterday a giant pile of mulch arrived in my driveway just hours before my son came to visit. Funny - the same thing happened last year! Time to get to it.

    Tuesday, May 01, 2007

    Sock One, Sock Two

    I finally completed my first Sensational Knitted Sock, on size 1 needles, r-e-a-l-l-y late (well, late for me) last night. And the unwritten rule for sock knitters is you have to start sock #2 immediately after finishing sock #1, as then you are more likely to eventually get to a complete pair of socks. So I did. Which reminds me: when you are knitting a k2 p2 ribbing on three needles, it is best to divide the stitches so that at each needle change, you are starting with a k2. Because when you are starting two needles with k2 and one needle with p2, the likelihood of screwing up increases dramatically. Ask me how I know.

    While starting sock #2, I wore sock #1. Mmmm, comfy, but I think the heel flap is too long, which makes the ankle bag a little. And I stopped short of the recommended foot length and am glad I did. So far, every pair of socks I have knitted (all two-and-a half of them) needed to be shorter than the recommended foot length. There is something I am not getting.

    At least my DSL is magically back. I have new instructions for the wireless (plus a helpful hint from somebunnysloveDOTcom), so when I am feeling brave, I will attempt that again.