Monday, September 29, 2008

Don't Ask the Question If You Don't Want To Know the Answer

Knitting Daily recently posted a survey, and one of the questions was, How much money do you spend on yarn? I tried to give an honest answer, but without my credit card statements and a calculator on hand, it was a WAG. I'm sure it was way too low. All I know is I can't knit fast enough to use up the yarn I buy.

Oh. And here are some lovely examples.

I was looking for some smallish projects that involve cables, since I haven't had much practice with them. The Elbac scarf from knitty suggests this Nashua Handknits Creative Focus Worsted. The color is "soft sage".

Another knitty project is Dashing fingerless mitts. The helpful staff at Knitting Off Broadway suggested this Blue Sky Melange alpaca in "licorice".

And, because I have not given up on the Sitcom Chic sweater, I purchased (on sale! really!) a sweater's worth of Classic Elite Four Seasons.

The description said "pink" but I say "fuscia".

I can't start these projects unless I finish a WIP. Here is the Vintage Shawl, post-knitting but pre-stitch dropping.

The shawl is supposed to be 70" long, but this one is only 52" despite using up all the yarn. The pattern says nothing about blocking, but this is for my daughter and she would like a bit more length, so I will do something, post-stitch dropping but pre-tasseling.

I have to let go of the idea that, when the knitting is done, the project is done, because it just never is so!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I'm Afraid

Even though I am skeins away from being finished, I was reviewing the bind off instructions for the Vintage Shawl and discovered that the columns of knit stitches are all supposed to be dropped, from bind off to cast on.

Gulp! I've never done that before. Ordinarily, a knitter tries NOT to drop stitches. The only scarier thing I can think of is steeking.

Meanwhile, I (heart) web-based conferencing. This cool bit of technology allows me (and many others) to participate in a meeting without leaving our cubicles. We view presentation materials online while listening over our phones. I have a headset, so my hands are free for knitting.

Heels have been turned and a gusset started on the Hedgerow socks. I am liking this pattern more and more, primarily because it is so carefully written. So far, my addition of a pattern repeat has not caused any problems, but (again) I read ahead and realize I may have to get creative with the toes in order to accommodate my extra stitches.

Be brave!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Poor Dog

Betsy had her ACL surgery a week ago. When I took her in, the vet gave her a pre-op during the exam so he could manipulate her joints, and she basically melted in about 15 seconds. I asked if I could have some of that stuff for the nights I can't sleep. They didn't think that was a good idea.

Betsy was able to come home the same day, albeit on three legs. I was sorry to have to board her while we were gone this past weekend, but I selected a new place, a vet clinic with Sunday hours so I could pick her up as soon as we got home. Anyone who knows beagles knows how vocal they can be. When Betsy saw me on Sunday, she screamed her "Where the f* have you been?!?" song, earning some worried glances from the other clients. "She's just happy to see me!" I explained cheerfully. "This is normal! Really!" They did not look convinced, nor convinced of my sanity for owning such a creature.

She has been putting some weight on the leg, but it has not healed yet. I still have to help her up the single step into the house. Except when there is a dirty plate awaiting her attention. Then she can get up that step just fine, thank you very much. I am looking forward to the day we can resume our early morning walks. I think.

Meanwhile, knitting has been going on, accompanied by The Golden Compass audio book. This is the aubergine Vintage Shawl from Runway Knits. Wrong side:

Right side:

As usual, it is difficult to capture an accurate picture of the color. Aubergine means eggplant, and this Karabella Aurora Bulky is a deep purple. This is my first experience with Karabella Aurora, and I am liking it. But what's not to like about 100% extra fine merino?

And the Hedgerow socks continue to grow (ha-ha). I tried working on them in the car on Sunday, but screwed up royally. Then I misplaced several of the needles. Tuesday, I spent an hour and a half recovering from my mistakes and finishing the second heel flap.

I found the mislaid needles, in the sunglasses pocket of my purse. Today heels will be turned.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Autumn Is Here

Now that the weather has cooled a bit, I have been wearing handknit socks a couple of times a week. I don't wear them everyday, for several reasons. One, I don't have that many handknit socks. Two, some of my shoes have velcro closures that snag the yarn. Three, I am compulsive about trying to color coordinate with my socks, which isn't always easy. To resolve issues one and three, I obviously need more socks, in more colors and styles. That's as good a reason as any to keep on knitting socks.

The legs are done on the Hedgerows. Onto the heel flaps!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

From Blob to Wrinkled Triangle

Here is the Sun Ray shawl, post pass #6 through chart 2, pre-edging.

And post edging, awaiting a good blocking.

The picot edging will require a bazillion pins, but that's okay. Since it is 100% wool, the shawl should block better than the Falling Leaves shawl.

I was anxious to finish the knitting on Sun Ray so I could use the US9 circs on the Vintage shawl. The pattern calls for US10, but I am accustomed to dropping at least on needle size, so that is what I did. Didn't like the results, so I tried US10.5 circs. Hmmm. Still not satisfied. I finally tried US10 straights. Aha! This pattern is a dropped stitch pattern, and the straights allow me to tug on the stitching and get something that approximates the desired results.

And, if you want to look smart, find a book of poetry of the proper dimensions to make fringe.

If you can't read the title, that's Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Wool Gathering

I needed an excuse to get out of town for a day or two, so Saturday my SO and I headed off to A Wool Gathering. Previous fiber fests that we have attended have been at county fair grounds, and inside buildings, but this was tent city. Fortunately, the weather was fine, sunny and in the 80's. And fortunately, they had power; the area had been hard hit by high winds a week before, and the locals were still cleaning up the fallen limbs and trees.

My goal was roving, and I quickly discovered that undyed roving is the economical way to go. Since I am still learning to spin, I did not want to spend a small fortune on "training yarn" but at the same time, I wanted something easy to spin. On the recommendation of qutecowgirl, I bought BFL (Blue Face Leicester, not Body For Life) and Corriedale, and also a bit of shetland, just for comparison purposes.

I also picked up a couple of different drop spindles. Now, I know some people collect these, but OMG, how can they afford to? My selections were reasonably priced, at least for my budget.

The one on the right is better balanced, and has a hole at each end so you can reverse the spindle. The ceramic disk on the lefthand one provides more heft. I am curious about what differences they may exhibit. I'm currently distracted by the renovation, but once that is completed (this week - please!), I plan to contact a local spinner for a tutorial.

While in Ohio, we stayed overnight with friends. L had expressed interest in the Pinwheel sweater, so I took it with and presented it to her, as a long overdue thank-you for all she does. It fit her perfectly and looked great on her, so it must have been her sweater all along. As I have said before, we always knit for someone; we just don't always know who.

Monday, September 15, 2008


All I got are blobs of Sun Ray Shawl.

After pass #4 of chart 2.

After pass #5 of chart 2.

After pass #6, all that remains is the edging. Yarnwise, I am doing fine.

Meanwhile, the poison ivy is healing, albeit too slowly for me. In an effort to keep the itching under control, I have tried an abundance of OTC and home remedies. What works best is hot water, as hot as one can stand. The theory is the heat drives the histamines out. Best for promoting healing is pure tea tree oil. I have also tried Caladryl Clear, Benedryl Spray (which is like taking an unknown quantity of Benedryl but through one's skin), Benedryl Allergy (do NOT take together with the spray), and something called Ivy Itch ReLeaf with the main ingredient of jewel weed, nature's antidote to poison ivy. Oh, and saliva. When I get a mosquito bite, I find that spit soothes the itch. Turns out it works on poison ivy itch, too, which is handy in a pinch.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Don't Scratch that Itch

Somehow, I came down with the worst case of poison ivy I have had since junior high, and then it was only on my arms and legs. This time, it is on my hands, face, arms where my T-shirt sleeves end, on my knees where my shorts end, plus big handprints on my hips (must remember to wash my hands before going to the bathroom) and around my waist. My theory is the dog picked it up when she wandered into the neighbor's yard, as I cannot find any in my yard, and since I have been carrying the dog around a lot (she has a torn ACL - and she doesn't even play basketball!), it got on me. And then more got on me. And then more. I have washed the dog (twice) and me (at least once daily) and my clothes (also multiple times) and now I am contemplating washing Tropical Treat and Sun Ray because I fear they may be contaminated, too.

Consequently, I am making some progress on the Hedgerow socks. The legs are halfway there.

I must admit that originally I was not particularly taken with the pattern, but the more I knit, the more I appreciate the subtle combination of stitches and semi-solid yarn.

I think once they are blocked, the hedgerows will really pop.

And apropos of nothing, here is my cat Fern and her aura.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Are You Ready for Some Football?

Apparently, the Colts are not. I watched the first half, then gave up and went to bed. Tropical Treat got all the attention, and I'm guessing it is about half done.

The Sun Ray Shawl has reached that stage where it is turning into an unrecognizable blob of knitting. This is post pass #3 through chart 2.

This shawl is not going to be one of those delicate wispy things. I'm looking forward to wrapping up in its warmth this winter.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Found It

The Vintage Shawl pattern is from Runway Knits.

I was tempted to cast on because that Karabella yarn is so luscious, but I want to use US9 circs and they are currently occupied. Curses! Foiled again!

A political aside: Having watched at least parts of the DNC and the RNC, I just gotta say that, were I a Republican, I would be really embarrassed at how BORING they are. I'm an independent who leans to the left, and I am also a Libra who favors a balanced view, but OMG. Absolutely stultifying. Anyway, regardless of where your politics fall, be(come) informed and VOTE come November. And if you don't vote, then don't complain.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Being Bad

I promised myself I would work on Tropical Treat during the RNC, but 1) I have not been watching much of the RNC because I have been busy with my house renovations (see my home and garden blog), and 2) when I did watch, Sun Ray was demurely sitting there on the coffee table, whispering "You know you want to knit me." So I did. Between last night and this afternoon, I completed another pass through chart 2.

I'm almost done with one out of six skeins, so that means I'm one-sixth of the way done, right? Piece o' cake!

But look what arrived today.

It was on sale! Honest! At Flying Fingers.

The danger of being on a yarn retailer's email list is, well, yarn mysteriously appears on one's doorstep. This yarn is for Vintage Shawl, from some book (I photocopied the pattern, but the pages lack a book title). I looked for it on Ravelry, but no luck, so you will just have to wait-and-see on this one.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Supersize Surprise

Last night when I dutifully picked up Tropical Treat, I realized that the needles were NOT my US9's. I could tell, because the US9 circs are Hiya, while whatever is in Tropical Treat are INOX. So where were the Hiya? I dove into the circ needle drawer and pulled out a likely pair, but they did not fit into the US9 hole on my needle sizer. I was 99% sure I was holding the Hiya's, so I took a straight US9 needle and checked its size. Aha! It did not fit into the US9 hole, either. Admittedly, my needle sizer is old, possibly my mother's, but still.

The result of all this needle juggling was I worked on Sun Ray instead of Tropical Treat, completing one cycle of chart 2. Tropical Treat is still reserved for the RNC, though, as it is all garter, all the time. It's only drawback is yarn wrangling four different colors.

I also started a new pair of socks, to serve as my portable project. The pattern is from Knitter's Review and accompanies a how-to article by Jane Cochran. At least, the pattern is found under the how-to articles, but I'm not sure what the how-to is telling us, other than solid colors give better stitch definition, so be careful when using semi-solids.

I had singled out this pattern a while ago, when still relatively new to sock knitting, and bought some semi-solid yarns from Yarn Daze for the expressed purpose of trying them with this pattern.

After two pairs of socks in Cherry Tree Hill, I am ready for something new. Because the skeins are a generous 4 oz., I'm enlarging the pattern by six stitches (one pattern repeat) and plan on making the leg 8" instead of 6", to see if I can achieve a better fit. That's one of the advantages of hand knits - a custom fit.

Both cuffs are done.

Monday, September 01, 2008

I Give Up... For Now

I love the color of the Cascade Pima Tencel yarn, but I have not yet found its pattern. Originally, I purchased it for the Sitcom Chic sweater, but worried it would have too much drape. Then I made several attempts to knit a Danish-themed tunic from the top down - still not happy with the results. After spending a good part of yesterday messing with it, I frogged everything, even the swatches, and put the yarn away. I still like the idea of a tunic - god knows I have enough yarn (15 50g skeins) - but will have to find the right pattern.

After so many false starts, I did not feel like starting something new, so I finished something: the Pinwheel sweater.

All I had to do was weave in ends and reinforce some of the YOs at the shoulders. I did not like the fit - it was particularly tight in the upper arms and shoulders - but blocking relaxed the fabric and now it is quite comfy. It needs a stick pin, or something, to fasten the front.

Blocking also relaxed the Go with the Flow socks, so now they fit ME perfectly. Sorry, daughter dearest, but I'm going to keep these.

The One Skein baby sweater also got some attention yesterday. All that remains is attaching the sleeves and (*sigh*) seaming.

To reward myself for finishing the socks and Pinwheel and almost the baby sweater, I started the Sun Ray shawl. I'm done with the top portion, but now need to transfer to my US9 circs... which are involved with the Tropical Treat baby blanket. (One way to limit the WIPs is to have only so many needles.) I'm thinking Tropical Treat will be perfect for the RNC this week.

I need a new project for work, though. What to knit, what to knit?