Monday, October 13, 2014

To California and Back Again: in Socks.

The Philosopher and I are just back from a California wedding. This of course required travel knitting, debating if there was time to go wool shopping, and the perennial debate about the numbers of pairs of shoes that I needed to pack for a short weekend away including a trip up to wine country. 

Shoe count ended up landing at 4 pair and yarn shopping didn't happen. We might have had enough time on Saturday to drive up to the next town from our hotel to the nearest yarn store but we opted for other activities. I've had a lot of yarn arriving at Chez Hedgehog recently, so perhaps this is no bad thing (it's mostly for Christmas knitting).  

My first project was finishing up the Cold Beach socks. I hadn't wanted to bring them, truth be told. I was bored with them. It is tiny yarn on size zero needles (2.0 mm) and the leg of sock two took forever but I had finally reached the flap for the heel and that's where travel knitting began once we'd checked in at the airport. 

I wanted to leave these socks at home and start something new, who wanted boring on a beautiful trip? But realistically, if I had let these linger I knew I would only resent them more and it was just time to put my head down and work thru them. So not only did I pack them, but they were my plane knitting for the flight out.  

We had dinner with one of the Philosopher's friends in San Francisco, having navigated the Bart and the bus system up to his place from our near-the-airport-hotel. And while we were chatting after the meal, I finished sock 2.  

Sock Details
Pair 10 2014
Rav Details: Cold Beach Socks 
68 stitches on 2.0 mm needles
Manos del Uruguay Alegría Yarn in the Atlantico Colorway

The next morning, we drove into San Francisco proper. Usually I drive but this time the Philosopher drove and I couldn't have been more grateful. I'll tackle most driving challenges but the grade on the hills was so steep that I was scared just being in the passenger seat. Both of us found the "come up to the top of a super steep hill and then stop and then go, praying that you didn't miss seeing anyone" alarming.  He drove, I knit. 

Sock Details
Pair 11 2014
Rav Details: Toothpaste Socks
60 stitches on 2.25 mm needles
Sophie's Toes Merino Sock in the Whale Watch Colorway

This is being fondly called the Toothpaste Socks.  My colors are all off--phone camera plus hotel lighting, but it looks like shades you'd find in toothpaste--minty not-real greens and blue. I'm always amazed how different needles feel when I make the change. Though only .25 mm thicker than the needles I'd used for the Cold Beach Socks, these seemed far bigger and the socks going much faster. 

After lunch, we rounded up another friend driving up to the wedding with us and went to the Golden Gate Park.  

We went to the Japanese Tea Garden, of course, for tea and a wander about. San Francisco was having a lot of fog that day so it was overcast and cool, perfect tea weather. 

After a brief stop in at an art opening (we're so posh), it was off to Windsor, CA.  Again the Philosopher drove, and I navigated. We had the obligatory In-And-Out Burgers for dinner and met up with friends at the hotel. 

Saturday morning brought sunshine and a few hours to spare before the wedding. After a very excellent brunch, we stopped in here to try some local beer:

How can you not stop at the Jaded Toad?  I had knitting suspended from my belt loops all weekend, so knitting progress, while not fast, was ongoing. 
We could have stayed all afternoon here in the sunshine of their beer garden, but we wanted to also visit Old Redwood Brewery, a local microbrewery, and stop in for a wine tasting at another local place. 

Then we were back to the hotel for a dash through showers and onto a shuttle bus for the wedding. I didn't remember to take any pictures there, but we were at a lovely winery that's a fair drive away. 
Sunday, we drove back, dropped our two friends at their different destinations and then made our way to the airport. I got stopped at security (Is there anything sharp in your bag? There are knitting needles in that green pouch. Ah, that's what he saw. Okay, have a great flight.) and then armed with my socks and the audiobook of Wizard of Earthsea, we were headed homeward.  I knit for several hours and by the time we landed I'd tucked things away because I'd reached "need to check for toe" point and it was just too squashed on the plane for that. Four hour flights are hard on the body and it was about 2 hours after landing that we finally got into our apartment. 

Today I'm home with very clingy cats and not knitting on socks at all, despite the chill outside. As I mentioned earlier though, Christmas yarn has been arriving and holiday knitting is definitely upon me.  There will be much to come soon!. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Sock Show Thursday: Rorschach and a Cold Beach

There has continued to be sock knitting at Chez Hedgehog! Well, okay, not so much at Chez Hedgehog, more like Commute Hedgehog, PlaceofWork Hedgehog, but at least there's progress being made.

These first socks are going to be done before the yarn hits it's one year mark: the Rorschach socks.


I bought the yarn on my birthday last year. It's Zitron Wolkenspiel in the Himmelbett Colorway.  I don't know why the color is called Four Poster Bed, but perhaps someone at Zitron can shed some light.

What's best about these socks are the heels:

Heel 1

Heel 2 ---[This picture has been giving me fits pulling in, please try to click through to Flickr if it is giving you strangeness as well.]

I've been showing them to everyone and asking what they see. I've gotten some rather unusual answers, no one sees the same thing.

The other socks are yarn from last winter.  I appear to be really focused on this first in-first out for the stash, I need to get past that and go deeper into the stash.

These look like the colors of a cold day at the beach. Not the warm summer sky but the colder one that makes you wish you'd brought a cup of coffee while you watch the tides roll in and out.


I'm almost done with sock 1 as you can see but I'm knitting on size 0 (2.0 mm) needles and that's slow going.  The heel is pretty, if you want a sense of how the yarn might knit up not in my usual 1x1 spiraling rib.


The yarn is Manos del Uruguay Alegría, which was new late last year I believe.  It's a 3 ply in a very light fingering weight.  It's a nice yarn. Not a workhorse and I don't remember being especially enchanted with the colors they had--though I was trying to find something that didn't look like *everything* else in my stash so that was probably more of a problem with me than the yarn.  They should be warm, comfortable socks.  If I can get the second one done.

This is pair 9 and 10 for 2014. I'm definitely on track to finish 12 by the end of the year, especially if I stop only knitting on size 0 (2.0mm) needles...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Winter is Icumen In

Sumer is Icumen In is the song I sang in Madrigals but with that fading fast into a brisk fall, I'm thinking ahead.  As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I lost my winter hat and bought some Mrs. Crosby worsted weight yarn to repair the problem.  But what would let me use every inch, still cover my ears, and not have too much going on to compete with the beautiful colors?

IMG_7294 (2)

I went with the Basic Ribbed Hat by Jane Irish Nelson. What I liked about this simple paid pattern is that she included both bottom up and top down directions for a beanie or a stocking cap and the yardage she required looked to be about right to meet the 164 yards that I had.

In order to use up all of the yarn, I did a top down hat. I think this might be a first for me. I'm always doing ribbing at the bottom and then decreases.  Anyway, after the first 18-20 rows, it was 2x2 ribbing. Of course, my hands default to 1x1 ribbing due to all of my sock knitting, so I had to correct a few more times than I'd like, but overall it went very quickly. I knit the entire hat in just a few hours one afternoon.

IMG_7295 (2)

I love how it turned out. The colors mute a little knit together and it looks like a stained glass window.

I still need to give it a quick wash and weave in the ends (the i-cord at the top will be a "button" where one might put a pompom).

I must tell you that this yarn was absolutely delicious to knit with. It's squishy and bouncy  and feels wonderful on the hands.  I've already ordered more for another project-- but that's another blog post.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Not My Usual Palette

I finished this scarf for the Philosopher a couple of weeks ago but haven't had the chance to get it in front of the camera. It still needs a full soak and the ends woven in--- oh, and dyed.

IMG_7296 (2)

Meet my 70s Lampshade shawlette. 

The yarn is BMFA Medium Weight Socks that Rock from the Mill Ends sale earlier this summer. I'd originally just planned to knock out a pair of socks but when the Philosopher said he really liked it, I ripped back. 

The pattern is Grashús by Larissa Brown. I did some sort of hybridization of sizes, knitting on size 5 (3.75mm) needles but  used the fingering weight size for stitch count rather than sport weight size? 

The top half of the pattern is garter + increases and the bottom is a very interesting technique called Double Garter that I'd never done before.  


It creates a very springy but dense fabric that is really cool.  And also is incredibly easy to screw up: 

Example A: 
IMG_7303 (2)

Example B: 

IMG_7304 (2)

And that doesn't include the multiple times that I picked back a number of rows very painstakingly trying to figure out where I could get to okay again.  After the first, third, eighteenth error I probably should have started using lifelines but I didn't. Learn from my mistakes....

Here's the beginning

The pattern is written where you start at one end, increase across until you're halfway through your wool, and then decrease.  This would have worked better (a) if I hadn't been knitting this in public a few times and (b) if I'd ever bothered to acquire a kitchen scale

The problem with the former (other than causing interesting errors as seen above) is that at some point about halfway through I forgot that I was supposed to be doing increase rows and did a fairly large "straight" section.  Once I realized this, I eyeballed the skein, knit a few more rows, called it "just past halfway" and, sending up a little prayer regarding the latter issue started decreasing.

Here's the end:


I got further than I expected, but certainly the ends don't quite match.

Once I hit the halfway point, the Philosopher started debating what color he wanted to overwash it with.  The pink is very fuschia and the overall mix reminds us a little too much of a hotel bedspread.  I think the verdict is that we're going to try adding a blue wash. That should tone the pink and green down and harmonize it a little more.

And proof that everyone's taste is different: I was working on this at a recent social event and one of the other women there absolutely loved the color blend. So it's a good thing Tina dyes great color mixes for all of us, not just what's in my preferred palette.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Warm, by Myself

There's been a cold front moving slowly through Chicago and with it has come the first real hints of fall. It's good sleeping weather, as the Incredibly Patient Mother reminds me, and she's right. These are the first nights that I want to burrow under an extra blanket, revel in the fact that it's quiet (no AC), and when I wake up I wonder where all of my woolen things are.  The Philosopher has gotten to wear a triangle for the first time this season-- he chose to start with the green one that I knit earlier this summer. I have a feeling that the requests for a "dress triangle" are going to start up again soon.

Yesterday though, for the first time ever, I pulled on a sweater I had knit for myself and went to the farmer's market.

It was perfect weather, cool but sunny. And while I bought ridiculously large zucchini, interesting squash, unusual apples, and parsnips, the Flax Sweater was just warm enough without being too much.

IMG_7149 (2)

I've knit a lot of socks. I've made hats and scarves, mittens and shawls. And this isn't even the first sweater that I've knit for myself--a couple of years ago I made a light cardigan that will, if I ever get it dyed because I shouldn't wear pale yellow, be a lovely addition to my closet. I made that green sweater from the same yarn (Filatura Lanarota Wool Sprinkles) but the shoulders turned out too wide and it went to live with the IPM. But this was the first handknit sweater that I've made that I've actually gotten a full day of wear out of.

The Incredibly Patient Mother made many of our clothes as I was growing up. I have a sewing machine but I'm seriously out of practice making entire garments, though she taught me and the muscle memory runs deep. The satisfaction though, of walking down the street knowing that I'd made my clothes was probably tangible to the people around me.

I've worn it again today, just at home, and as both of the cats have been trying to burrow into my chest at various points, it seems that they like it as well. Pyewacket keeps licking the sweater--not a felting problem that I had anticipated needing to ward again. Paired with my Pumpkin Patch socks, I'm feeling very handknit from head to toe.

And warm, by my own cleverness and some time, sticks, and string. Maybe there's something to this sweater bug I hear about...

Friday, August 29, 2014

Sifu: On the Way Home

I've been looking around at the Chicago yarn stores recently for some new options. I enjoy Nina but her shop is out of the way and Loopy just doesn't seem to carry anything in terms of smaller dyers, it's all major brands. I miss that from when they had the little shop, I used to find the greatest random stuff there.

Fortunately, AudioGirl was up for an exploration trip to Sifu, which is on the northeast side of Chicago and on my way home. What a gem of a shop! It's absolutely stuffed with yarn from floor to ceiling and they had all sorts of things I'd never seen before. The staff was very welcoming, offering comments without making us feel like we were being supervised. We definitely want to go back.

IMG_7225 (2)

AudioGirl ended up getting yarn to make a new hat--she too left her winter hat in a cab* and I got another skein of Dragonfly Fibers. I was surprised and pleased to find this smaller dyer in a shop. As you can see, that bright green reached out to me again.

IMG_7222 (2)

And also there's that yellow that appealed in the Van Gogh skein. Finally, it's in fall colors.  Can you see why I had to bring it home? The colorway is called Chicago Blackhawks and the base is called Traveller. It's a nice squishy 100% superwash in worsted weight.

I'd like to make a hat with it.  Despite how much I adored my hat last winter, by spring I was very very tired of wearing it everyday.  I'm hoping that keeping two hats in rotation will keep me from being quite so burnt out on my winterwear.  Haven't decided on a pattern yet but I'm sure there must be something in my queue of interest...

This was a very nice yarn store discovery and I hope my next venture, to Sister Arts, goes equally well.

*There must  be some wonderful cabbie lost and found of hand knit hats somewhere in Chicago. I hope they go to a charity or something...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

For love of leaves

When Lime and Violet were still recording, Violet really loved Lisa Souza.  It's something she bequeathed to many of her listeners, I think, the love of her yarn and color sense.  The podcast has long faded but I still hear the angel music they'd play after each instance of saying Lisa's name. It's always a pleasure to buy Lisa's yarn, whether online or in person and I highly recommend stopping and chatting with her and her husband if you get the opportunity.

IMG_7269 (2)

Lisa's was the first booth that I stopped into at Stitches Midwest but it was my last place to buy. I could have bought everything but I wanted to be somewhat selective--so I waited until I'd gotten through my other purchases and wasn't just going to go full hedgehog into the racks of wool.

I was drawn to her natural colors. I'm on a fall colors kick. Anything and everything that looks like trees changing color has shown up in my hands if not my actual shopping cart of late. And this skein, Augustine,

IMG_7271 (2)

was exactly the kind of fall tree that I was looking for. I love the pop of purple among the more usual colors. This is on the Hardtwist Petite base, which is 100% superwash merino and will make really great socks. Or a really great hat, or something. I've got 500 yards to play with..

The Philosopher also picked out a skein (he picked out several actually but this is the one I bought). This is in the Sherwood Forest colorway


I had a doozy of a time getting a picture of it, even in my little lightbox.  For whatever reason my camera just refused to focus, so you get a rather blown out picture and my apologies. At least you can see all of the various shades that are in the skein. It's a 100% superfine superwash merino, so it's even softer and squishier than the other base.  The Philosopher, of course, wants a triangle. I've got 525 so I might shoot for a small triangle and maybe some short socks, or matching fingerless mitts. It's just too pretty of yarn for extras to go into the leftovers bin.

This was my last stop at Stitches Midwest. I ended up with a total of 8 new skeins of yarn from the event, which is fairly restrained in my mind. Next up, I need to tell you about the new-to-me wool shop I found...