Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Patterns and Self-Patterning Socks

I've been trying to resist buying yarn this year.  Not fully resisting--there were those two little trips to Loopy. But I managed to get in and out of NY without actually stepping into a wool shop and I have been making myself delete all of the wonderful weekly updates from Sherri at The Loopy Ewe. She makes it all sound so wonderfully delicious. Surely* I just need another half dozen skeins of fingering weight yarn so I feel like I have enough and don't need any more.

In practice, we all know I have way too much wool at Chez Hedgehog.

And so, I've been going back into Ravelry. This shouldn't imply that it's hard to get me there, but I fall out of regular pattern searching. I need to go through my queue and pick some things out, make some actual knitting plans (for gifts and such) and have some method to my casting on madness.

I've also bought a couple of patterns, one spontaneously, and one spontaneously but I've had my eye on it for a while. The first was Wendy Knit's Japanese Garden Shawl. I very much like her patterns and here was a lovely cause and she suggested it might be a perfect shawl to use up an entire single skein of Wollmeise--of which we all know I have a few. And then Cristi (TurtleGirl76) blogged again about her Breaking Hearts Socks and I had to go buy that. My knitting of patterned socks is rare, being the queen of the 2x2 rib and all that, but it's so pretty and I've been watching Carin knit up a pair. Of course, since purchasing the pattern (yesterday) I've had to talk myself down off the Blue Moon Fiber Arts website several times. I don't HAVE to make the Breaking Hearts out of BMFA STR Lightweight in ten different colors. Truly. I have lots of other fingering weight that would make lovely socks and I'm sure Cristi won't mind. I am a sheep, but I'm trying to be a slightly unusual sheep.

The Ugly Socks, pictured above, continue to chug along. They came with me to New York and added one American Air flight, several NY subways, the Blonde's House, the LIRR, and at least one bar to places where I've knit them. I did not knit on them at church, but only because we didn't stay through the sermon. They do not match. I had thought I was starting pretty close to matching, but I didn't realize until about an inch into sock 2 that it's really two patterns of stripe thickness and at that point rolled my eyes and kept knitting. 

The Blonde asked me, politely, who they were for while I was knitting on them at her house. I could see visible relief when I told her I thought the self-patterning wasn't my cup of tea but that I was just plowing through them as a traveling project. Maybe I can over dye the yarn? Can one find brown Kool-aid?

*Don't call me Shirley...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ugly Socks

I don't, as a general rule, like self patterning yarn. It tends to be too busy and fussy for me. There are a couple indie dyers who also put something like 13 colors on one skein and I have never been able to bring myself to buy a skein of that yarn either.

But I was in Loopy, buying the St. Denis yarn for the swap shawl and what's a trip to Loopy without going downstairs and rummaging through the sale bin? Oh that reminds me. I have to admit to my stash all of the KPPPM that I bought on another OMG look what's on clearance trip.  Looks innocent. Yarn? What Yarn?

This yarn, Berocco Sox, was an interesting blend of colors and in a fit of denial, I convinced myself it would just blend interestingly. She who doesn't not look at the actual length of the color repeats is doomed to grab self-patterning once in a while.


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What I thought was rather charming in the skein, I am openly ridiculing as I knit. Because I'm knitting my usual vanilla 2x2 rib, the self patterning in the brown and white sections isn't really working out and I don't like how it's striping.

Why continue then? Well, for one thing, even on size 1s these are going awfully fast. I finished the gusset decrease on sock 1 on the commute home on Monday--when I'm writing. As I should have a little knitting time with these later in the week, I'm sure more will be done.  For another, they're socks. My wool socks are worn around my apartment or in my winter boots. I don't wear Mary Janes so people can see them. I'm going for warmth. Third, I bought the yarn, I want to get it used up and quickly. Fourth, well--at least I'll be able to find them in the wash.  And fifth? Well...they've become traveling knitting and now they're part of stories. 

So far, I've knit these socks:
  1. At work during a webinar.  I was the only one in the room not doodling.
  2. On the Blue and the Pink trains
  3. At the theater waiting for Merchant of Venice to start.
  4. During the opening band at Abbey Pub
  5. At Carol's while waiting for the Philosopher and the Voiceover Artist 
  6. During Fringe Knitting at Chez Hedgehog (we watch Fringe and Knit--it works)
The Philosopher described me as the ironic image hipsters aspire to be: a librarian hanging out in a country western dive bar, nursing a beer and knitting. Hopefully, this wins me indie girl cred for a while. If I'd managed to be wearing a triangular shawl with the point in front (don't like that look) and flannel I might have imploded for absolute hipsterness. But as it was, I only managed to gain the interest of every single bar fly over sixty, none of whom had apparently seen a girl my age knit in decades.

And just as soon as I finish the second sock, I'm going back to BMFA.

Cat Shot:
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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

And what did I get?

The joy of doing a swap is that you not only send--you also receive!! Stacy from Tempted Yarns was my knitter and she sent me a lovely package.

I, of course, had help opening the package.

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Hmm...now what have we here?

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A shawl pin!

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And a shawl--(and tissue paper)

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It's a lovely garnet shade. Gypsy thinks it should belong to her--I disagree

Swap Shawl

But she can have the tissue paper and I won't even take it away when she starts crinkling and using it to sharpen her claws.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Dose of Vitamin C

Finally--I get to show you the swap shawl!! I had planned originally to go stash diving but my swap partner said that she liked orange and bright! And me with no orange in my stash.  So it was time for a trip over to Loopy Yarns. They are my home shop here in Chicago and are so wonderfully close to a train stop that is on the way home from work.

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I chose Veronik Avery's St. Denis Boreale in Carrot.  This is her fingering weight and I don't think it's getting enough press. This is Made in the USA yarn!! It's 100% wool--not merino--so it is a more crisp and bouncy yarn. The colors are gorgeous and the yardage is generous (225 yds). I really liked the stitch definition that I got and even after a trip through Soak (just the faintest hint of orange came off in the water), all of the stitches were still very crisp. WEBS has it if you're looking online--it's brighter in person than the colors are showing on my monitor. 

The pattern I pulled from Sock Yarn 1 Skein Wonders. It's the first thing I knit from the book and it was....okay. It's the Clover Honey Shawlette.  I don't think my row gauge is that off but I had to do a full extra repeat of the lace chart to get anywhere near the appropriate measurements.  And in my experience this takes closer to 300 yards rather than the 400 that it calls for.  I chose not to do the beads, they seemed superfluous. 

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And in case you wondered, once I pinned it out I did cover it so my swapee didn't get a shawl ENTIRELY laden with cat fur.

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I don't think I'll knit the pattern again. It was deadline knitting, what with deciding around March 1 that I wanted to do this particular pattern rather than the one I'd picked out before and by the time I was done I was pretty sick of it. If repeated I might try to figure out how to add another repeat of width on the chart.

Packed it up with some buttons, stitch markers and sock yarn...

Proof of Finished....

Tada! I did actually finish projects, not just tell you I did.

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Four pair of socks. Yes, I know, I'm missing one footie. I'd started washing socks and realized that one footie had gone into the Soak bath before I got everything going. I promise the other footie does exist and has been worn. 

Currently all of my handknit socks are on the drying rack. It's a lovely blend of blues, greens, and purples, which will of course come as no surprise to anyone who has looked in my stash.  You'll notice that the fifth pair of socks is nowhere to be seen. All I have to do is the toe on the first sock and then it's to half way and I have the worst knitting mojo where those socks are concerned.

This brings me up to about 8 pairs that I've knit for myself.  Not bad for my first serious year of sock knitting. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Whither Knitting Time?

The challenge, it seems, of actually having a social life is that it cuts into my knitting and movie/TV watching. It's horrible to be me, right?

All is quiet on the blog front for lack of getting my camera hooked up to the computer at home. I managed to get things downloaded last night, just not to Flickr. Small steps, small steps.

The short version of what's been getting knit:
  • I participated in the KnitGirllls' Shawlette Swap! I got an amazingly beautiful shawl from Stacy and hope my swap partner liked what I made for her. It is one of the two times I've knit with orange yarn.
  • Four pair of socks are DONE! This greatly increases the pair count in rotation just in time for it to be spring and I'm almost ready to put them away until winter. Of course.
  • Ugly socks are being knit. I am reminded that I truly dislike self patterning yarn. Lovely for others, I'm sure, but not for me. Still, it's socks. And it means stash is being used up. Both good things. Socks are primarily in my winter boots anyway...
  • I'm supposed to be finishing another pair of mittens by, oh...Thursday. All that's on the docket for tonight is laundry, so there's a vague possibility that progress will be made. 
  • I'm headed to NY this week. I think I may have time on Friday to hit either Smiley's or Knitty City. If you hear muffled cries for help under an enormous pile of wool, assume I made it to Brooklyn and send help!
  • I've started watching Fringe but when I do get time with the TV, the knitting is going too so I doubt I'll be any good at the codes or finding the Observer. AudioGirl and I had a good time picking apart the various moments of "suspension of disbelief!"
I finally broke the 1K mark on my yards of knitting projects completed this year. I'm kind of horrified, considering that I still am hoping to reach the better part of 20K by 12/31. We're nearly a third of the way through the year and I haven't even touched 5K. I know there aren't any knitting police that will come and beat me up for not getting through all of it but I'm frustrated with myself. Shouldn't I have found more knitting time? Yes, it's a past time that I do because I enjoy it but I feel like I'm slacking.

I think part of it is I truly expected to knit more on public transportation. The morning commute is about 85% standing, shoehorned into cars that don't make very efficient use of space. While I can read standing and do--I have reservations about breaking out the sharp pointed size 1 needles. We don't need tetanus shots before breakfast. And since I have work knitting and home knitting, I don't always have train knitting unless I have something I'm headed to after work. I had expectations when I moved back to Chicago that somehow that I was going to turn into Wendy Johnson and be churning out buckets of lace everyday to and from work. That hasn't happened as yet. And as I have some social obligations that call for not-knitting....*sigh* 

I am determined to make a dent though. We'll just have to see how big a dent it is...

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Surfeit of Socks....

I very nearly cast on a 6th pair of socks-in-progress this week. I had a public transit ride up to a friend's apartment that is about an hour and all of my socks were at a point that I needed to DO something of the shaping variety. While yes, I'm perfectly happy to turn a heel in public, a number of them need toes and I'd rather not have to take my shoes off on the Red Line.

I resisted, valiantly. And I actually completed 1 pair...but I haven't taken pics for a couple of days...so bear with me as I catch up on where we are now.

Pair 1: Meet the Footies



763After finishing the Squashed Bug Socks, I still had a fair amount of wool left. Not one to really let Bugga yarn go to waste, I decided that a pair of footies might be most appropriate.  I saved all the yarn I could and oh--did I need it. I was down to the toe decreases on Sock 2 and realized I was never going to make it. That little ball of yarn above the sock came to my rescue!!

Pattern: 2x2 Vanilla Rib
Yarn: Sanguine Gryphon Bugga
Needles: Size 2 (I bought yet another set of DPNs...I think this makes 5)
Status: These are actually done but I've not blocked them yet. AudioGirl might be wrangled into posing for sock photos so you get something other than me photographing my own feet. We'll see.

Pair 2:Languishing Socks




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(Please note that I managed to pull ALL of the needles out of the sock inadvertently but all stitches have been reclaimed)

I started these socks at the Sock Hop: Knitting in Public Day 2010, because we actually had enough downtime that I could sit down and knit for a few minutes and I wasn't working on any projects that I was able to bring and literally drop as needed. 

Pattern: 2x2 Vanilla Rib
Yarn: KnitPicks Essential (when it still came in 100 gm skeins)
Needles: Size 2
Status: Same as you see here. Sock 1 just needs a toe and then I'm off and running on Sock 2.  Soon my little socklettes...soon







Pair 3: Subtle Stripe Sunday


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Please note the "help" I get when I'm trying to take pictures.
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Pattern: 2x2 Vanilla Rib (exciting, right?)
Yarn: BMFA STR Medium-Weight in Never on a Sunday
Needles: Size 2
Status: I've turned the heel on the second sock now and am working down the foot.  Making good progress!!

Pair 4: Seafoam Socks
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I suppose it's good that I don't have much knitting time at work. It's hard on the work socks though--they only get a row or two each day and no evening or weekend knitting time.  Still, I've had a couple of meetings that I could knit through and so there's been progress.

Pattern: 2x2 Vanilla Rib
Yarn: Ewetopia Farm Sportweight
Needles: Size 2
Status: I've turned the heel and am working out the foot on Sock 2 now--this picture is a couple days old. Might actually finish a pair in the first quarter of the year!

Pair 5: Purple Pond Socks
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And finally, the Purple Pond Socks are heading down the home stretch. I'm over halfway down the foot, maybe an inch from the toe now? Something like that.  They're coming well.

Pattern: 2x2 Vanilla Rib
Yarn: KnitPicks Stroll Handpainted
Needles: Size 1 (oooh!)
Status: If I can find a couple uninterrupted hours, I'll finish these.  

If I don't do anything on Saturday but finish socks, it'll be like having a whole new sock drawer!!  AudioGirl declined taking pics but she's getting at least one pair of socks for her birthday so she picked out some yarn and I have some socks to start for her. :) 

An Eclipse Coming At You

I'd told you I ordered the "Total Eclipse of the Sun" from BMFA, but I didn't yet have a chance to share how beautifully i...