Monday, November 30, 2009

Jason's xmas socks

Usually when I knit socks, I follow a specific pattern and hope that they fit someone, preferably the person I am knitting them for. Now I am trying for a more custom fit, and toward that end, conducted a foot measuring this past weekend of all those who receive socks from me. My son-in-law would not cooperate, though, so he is stuck with these. My SO wears almost the same size shoes, and he deemed them a good fit, so all should be well.

Pattern: Generic toe-up socks with ribbed cuff
Yarn: Online Supersocke 6-fach (sport weight), colorway 1083
Needles: US2 DPNs
Details: easy toe, easy heel, invisible ribbed bind off

By the time I finished these socks, I was thoroughly sick of them. Does it feel like toe-up socks take longer to knit that top-down to you? It does to me.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

BSJ is done, sorta

Now that I have finished demonstrating the magic of the Baby Surprise Jacket to all and sundry, I decided it was time to sew it up.

I purchased some boyish buttons for it, but am holding off on actually attaching them to the sweater, pending the gender of the next baby born within my gifting set.

This is the plain, learn-how-to-knit-BSJ version. The next version will incorporate striping. But first, must finish Bog Jacket.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mystery solved

While perusing my own blog, reviewing what I knit over 2009, I discovered where the slubby roving came from: it is Suri alpaca and was part of a dye kit I purchased at an alpaca show. LESSON LEARNED: Closely inspect roving before buying!

The stuff is kind of wispy, too. I don't think I'll waste time spindling it, but does anyone have any ideas of what I could use it for? Maybe needle felting?

I cast off one of the son-in-law socks, using the sewn bind off, but I do not like the results. The socks are resting while I make up my mind over which other bind off to try. Another reason not to like toe-up socks.

But then I cast on a pair of top-down socks, and am struggling with the k4, p2 cuff. Maybe I need a break from socks. Sounds like a good excuse to work on the Bog Jacket - all that garter stitch is very soothing.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Just to prove I AM knitting...

The shoulder shaping for the Bog Jacket has been giving me fits, but I think we are in the homestretch for that part. Technically, I am over three-fourths of the way done, except the sleeves will require additional work.

The toe-up son-in-law socks should be done tomorrow.

On spinning notes, it was not a good day to spindle. I tried again to work with the slubby mystery roving, but gave up after a while. Not to be discouraged, I pulled out some Corriedale, but it proved equally recalcitrant. I'm feeling discouraged. Maybe I will just put spindling aside until I can get to a spinning guild meeting and find myself a mentor. I know some people find a wheel easier to use than a spindle, but my problem is not the tool; it is my inability to draft properly. I don't know what I am doing wrong, but the wool tends to clump up behind the drafting triangle, which results in a big clump of yarn. With a little guidance and a lot of practice, I WILL get the hang of it, though. Eventually. I hope.

P.S. I am again allowing anonymous commenters, but will moderate comments. We'll see how that works out.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Is perseverance a skill?

A couple of weeks ago, I had company for the weekend. While I was not the only knitter in the bunch, I was the only one knitting. I showed everyone the Baby Surprise Jacket and the Bog Jacket, and everyone was impressed with the cleverness of the designs.

What bothered me was how one person in the crowd attributed the cleverness to ME. I do not design the patterns, all I do is implementing them. The only talent required is perseverance and a lot of patience. It helps to be somewhat simpleminded, entertained by yarn overs and bobbles and changes in color, but otherwise, it is just a matter of sitting and knitting. My friend refused to believe I was not gifted.

This friend sews, something I have little patience for, so you would think she would understand my point of view. But maybe, because she finds knitting a struggle, she feels better believing it takes special talent? What do you think?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Robbing Peter to pay Paul

I calculated that I was going to run out of yarn for the Bog Jacket, which meant I was faced with either purchasing more (and not of the same dye lot, not that that would be a big deal) or stealing yarn from other projects. I opted for the latter, and took a triangular shawl I had knit up a while back but never wore and frogged it. Completely. I soaked the resulting skeins to unkink the yarn and now, after several days of drying, the yarn is becoming one with the Bog Jacket. Then there are the twined mitts I started (and abandoned) last year. The yarn from that project is also going to become Bog Jacket.

I hope that will be enough yarn, but it will depend on what I decide to do about the sleeves. Initially, I planned to extend the sleeves while knitting the body but taper the them at the same time. This made my brain hurt, so now I am going to extend the sleeves by picking up stitches and working down to the cuff. I'm not sure how I feel about the sleeve width, which will make kimono sleeves. I might taper them a bit, and then end each sleeve with a ribbed cuff, hopefully creating a billowing, balloon-like sleeve instead. Can you picture what I am talking about? I can. I'm just not sure I can knit it.

I wish I had brought my Bog Jacket to work today. I haven't been able to work on it while awaiting the recycled yarn to dry and I feel deprived. I'm up to the shoulder shaping and am anxious to get moving on it again.

Meanwhile, the first pair of xmas socks are nearing completion. I'm halfway up the cuffs. I am also wishing I had ribbed the insteps because I'm afraid they may be too loose for the intended recipient's feet. If that turns out to be the case, I will knit a replacement pair; the original ones will fit somebody.

I am not sold on toe-up socks. Since I used the "easy" cast on on the last pair of toe-ups, I tried to do a different cast-on for this pair. I tried and I tried and I tried, before giving up and doing the easy cast on again. Casting on for toe-ups is WAY more difficult than casting off using the kitchener stitch. WAY!

P.S. All my blogs are getting spam from "anonymous" commenters. So I am going to disallow anonymous comments, to see if that eliminates this pesky problem.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Casting Off

I picked this book by Nicole Dickson off the new fiction shelf at the library, to see if it could successfully put the "knitting" into "knitting novel". Casting Off is more accurately classified as "knitting romance", but don't let that stop you from giving it a try. The main character is kind of annoying, and the storyline is equal parts predictable and unlikely, and the book is a bit long-winded, but it is redeemed by the ganseys.

Each chapter starts with a description of a gansey stitch or combination of stitches, lifted from a fictional source. Each definition also includes the meanings behind the stitches. Consequently, a gansey created with a combination of stitch patterns tells a story about the wearer. This is the most successful part of the book and makes me wish the fictional source of this information was not so fictional.

I would also call this book "beach fiction" - it will hold your attention well enough while you bake in the sand, but is not so engrossing you will lose track of the kids.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Look what I got!

I don't know who Alice Neno is, but Qutecowgirl tagged me with this award. QC (as I like to call her because usually I am too lazy to type her whole moniker) remembers we first "met" at the SnB forum. It was her Pinwheel Sweater that inspired me to make mine, and when she started her Etsy shop, I immediately glommed onto a few skeins of her uniquely dyed, uniquely named Barn Yarns.

The Neno’s Award Rules and Regulations:
1. As a dedication for those who love blogging and love to encourage friendships through blogging.
2. To seek the reasons why we all love blogging.
3. Put the award in one post as soon as you receive it.
4. Don’t forget to mention the person who gives you the award.
5. Answer the award’s question by writing the reason why you love blogging.
6. Tag and distribute the award to as many people as you like.
7. Don’t forget to notify the award receivers and put their links in your post.

I started blogging because I wanted to find a way to write on a regular basis, and who doesn't like to write about themselves? It has also become a convenient way to keep track of my life with yarn and my home improvements and garden. But the unexpected pleasure of blogging has been the online connections with others. I enjoy peeking into the lives of others, vicariously sharing their joys and concerns, and frequently learning something new, about knitting and gardening and hardship and strength.

I am going to tag All Things Shea, because she amazes me with her crafty ways (burlap window treatments being her latest project) and What Housework? because I never tire of reading about her life on the farm.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Cleverness times two

In our last episode, I was about to embark upon the Phony Seam portion of the Bog Jacket journey. Not quite sure what I was doing, I dropped about ten stitches and tried it out. Yes, it is as simple as the instructions say: pick up two stitches at a time, making sure to get one from the front and one from the back.

While dropping all the stitches, down to the cast on, I sighed over how tedious this task was going to be. But then - aha! - a light bulb moment: This looks like a job for the Seed Stitcher!

Open jaws:

Close jaws:

Everytime I use this tool, I marvel at its simple ingenuity. Available only at Knitting Today.

As if that were not enough cleverness for one day, let's return to the Phony Seam.

If you work this from the right side, you get this pretty column of stockinette stitches.

But, not knowing any better, I worked my seams from the wrong side:

I like the way this looks like a real seam, so I'm keeping it.

Again, so clever! (Do I sound like an EZ convert?)

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Look, Ma, no ladders!

I'm guessing most knitters have a bag of tricks they use without really thinking about it. None of my little quirks are unique, but there is one I frequently apply when knitting socks on DPNs. To avoid laddering between needles, I developed the habit of shifting the work one stitch to the "right" as I move from needle to needle.

First, I place a stitch marker to indicate the beginning of the round (usually this is at the middle of the back of the sock), then I knit one stitch from needle 1 to needle 4 (or 3 if you are using only four needles). In other words, if I start with 14 stitches per needle, now I have 15 stitches on the last needle and 13 stitches on the first. Then I knit to the end of needle 1 and knit a stitch from needle 2 onto needle 1. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Initially, learning this trick was a bit confusing because the stitch marker moves as you go. But now it is second nature.

Laddering is not much of a problem for me anymore, but I still like to knit socks like this. I knit both socks at the same time, alternating between them, and this method provides me with an easy row counting method. I knit a needleful of stitches on one sock, then a needleful on the other sock, until done. No second sock syndrome for me!

These socks are a "stocking stuffer" for my son-in-law. When I picked out the yarn, I thought it was mostly shades of brown, but now that I am knitting it, the purple really stands out. Not that there is anything wrong with men wearing purple socks.

The Bog Jacket marches on. I'm ready to add the "phony seams", although I am having trouble visualizing the technique from the verbal description. I looked for some online help, but EZ's legacy is well guarded. Guess I will just give it a go and see how it turns out.