Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Proof is in the Bindoff

The biggest thing I finished recently was a pair of flip-top mittens for a very patient brewer. Last year he swapped me for some homemade mead and I have been woefully behind. The mittens were delivered to him on Saturday but third hand and so I do not have photos. Suffice to say that I heavily modified a pattern, made up a lot of things, and never ever want to knit fingering weight mittens for someone not in my immediate family ever again.

I do have proof, however, of the socks that have come off the needles. 

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We have three pair, two that are entirely done but for the end weaving and one that needs a toe but I'm calling it close enough. 

First up are the Windsor Socks:

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These were knit on size 1 (2.25mm) needles out of Miss Babs Windsor Monochrome. I think this was my first experience with Miss Babs' yarn. I sincerely hope it won't be my last. It's a pretty, squishy blue-gray yarn.  

Next we have the Ground Up Muppet Socks. Yes, that's what I think this looks like, leftover felt pieces all ground up together.  The yarn, Schaefer Nichole, is incredibly decadent. It's a heavy fingering, so I knit it up on 1.5 (2.5mm) needles instead of size 1s. These will cushion the feet of the wearer and are so ridiculously bright and cheerful. 

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I was surprised that the yarn didn't stripe more, but imagine that had a lot to do with my gauge and the fact I was using ribbing. If I'd been knitting on a different needle size, I would not have been surprised to have more striping or blotches of color.  

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This yarn was part of a spontaneous Loopy Ewe sale in May 2011. This was only the first skein of Janis Joplin colored Nichole and it has a lovely enough hand on it that I wouldn't mind knitting with it again. I'm a little done with the colors though. I might see if I can find someone on Ravelry who would like to trade for a similar skein.

Finally are these Louet Gems socks. These have been on the needles FOREVER.

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I love Louet Gems. It's a little bit pricey and one could wish to not have to buy two skeins just to make a pair of socks but it's great yarn. I left these at work, I've ignored them willfully in the face of shinier yarn, everything I could do but stuff them back in a bin and pretend I didn't cast them on. But I'm ready for the toe on sock 2 and then they go far far away. Or at least into the gift bag.

With these, though, I hit a milestone. These are pair 8-10 for 2012.  And it's just the end of October which means I'm on track to finish a dozen pair of socks this year! Certainly, it's not last year's 18 pairs but considering that I've been primarily working on smaller needles, and did the mittens (1 sock pair equivalent) and knit the Color affection (3.5 pair socks equivalent of yarn), I'm not doing too poorly in my book. According to knitmeter, I just passed the 5K mark as well.  I really must start knitting up worsted weight again, it goes so much faster.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Next Up On the Needles...

With last week's storming, Chicago saw the temperatures drop from an abnormal high in the upper 60s to lower 70s to it's much more normal late October temperatures. Saturday night I wenched around the apartment, wondering why our radiator heat wasn't percolating along. I know it's been turned on for the season, it has kicked in before. Finally, sometime after 2 a.m., we got steaming clicks and rattles and the apartment warmed up.

It's been a quiet weekend at Chez Hedgehog. The Philosopher, just finally at about 80% after a nasty bout of food poisoning, is presently laid low by something new gastrointestinal. A couple of hours ago he finally fell asleep for longer than 20-30 minutes, so I think we've come over the worst of it. Dinner has not revisited either (chicken and rice soup and a loaf of sourdough bread, thank you Campbell's for making this evening easy), which is an even better sign. I'm still chomping my way through the sourdough, one slice has peanut butter, one slice has honey.

I love good bread. Chewy dense slices slathered in peanut butter, jam, honey, Nutella, cheese, it's all very appealing. I haven't made bread in a long time, though once upon a time I think I was fairly successful with yeast breads. And with a really good bakery down the street, it's always tempting to race home and catch a roll or loaf before they close up shop.

I was supposed to go wool shopping today. It was the last day of Vogue Knitting Live and I thought I might even be able to stalk Franklin as I raided the marketplace and spent too much money. The Philosopher's illness meant I got no further than the grocery (four blocks). I was faced with a minor dilemma though: I'm on my last "current" pair of socks.

It's uncommon, especially after the disaster of three pairs of size 0 (2mm) needle socks simultaneously, that I don't have at least two pair of socks on the needles and going. I've been working through sock yarn that I wound up prior to the move in July, mostly because there hasn't been anywhere to set up my swift and ball winder. But I've gone through most of that yarn.

So I faced the stash--that's right, I still owe you a picture of the newly sorted stash on it's shelves:

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Lighter weights are towards the top, a rather ridiculous amount of yarn in sweater quantities towards the bottom, and the cotton cones on the top. Why I still have that much cotton baffles me, it seems like I keep knitting through it. AudioGirl has hinted that another large mat would be welcome and I think we need one in the kitchen as well.

I went for two bins that had been identified as holding "next project" yarn, mostly sock weight but also some worsted and some seriously old DK that's I've been considering for a baby project. I dug the swift out of the office and cleared off the dining room table.

Here are most of the winding victims of the evening (except the far left skein, that one got squeezed and put away for a couple more weeks).

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These will probably become tediously familiar in the coming weeks as they turn into three pair of socks and a scarf. The Lorna's Laces Worsted will probably become a hat but I thought it best to leave it in it's skein for now.  I can hear it sighing in the stash..."So close."

An hour and change of winding later, all my project bags are full and I'm once more prepared for commuting and meeting knitting.  And I didn't spend any money on yarn (today).

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Shed Leaves: Sock Sized

You didn't think I'd really given up sock knitting, even when hurting, did you?  Sure, it slowed me down a little but you can't keep a frustrated woman from the needles.  I've also come to the not especially brilliant conclusion that I should only do one pair of socks on size 0 (2mm) needles at a time. I'd been wading through more than that and was definitely at the point of disparaging all sock knitting ever. Switching to a size 1 needle (2.25 mm) made an enormous difference.

As proof that they are done, I present to you three pairs off the needles.

Black No. 6  was the sixth pair I'd started in 2012. I think I'm officially out of Black Cascade Heritage yarn now.

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This is not a particularly exciting picture but they aren't particularly exciting socks. Squishy, sure. But not festive.  They're in the gift basket.

The Tiny Teal Socks seemed never ending. These were on size 0 (2mm) needles, out of Berroco Sox. The yarn is not the softest, though I expect it to be really hard wearing. When I finished these I banished my size 0 dpns so effectively that I can't find them. I'm not kidding, I've managed to lose 2 sets of size 0 needles. I have no idea where they are and a casual flip of the apartment hasn't helped.  Someday I'll do something crazy like put needles away when I'm done. Apparently I haven't reached that point yet.

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The Warm Water Socks, at least, made me happy. The yarn was so vibrant and seemed to fly off my needles.  Even knitting on size 1 needles (2.25 mm)

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These are out of Baah! La Jolla yarn, which I recently discovered at Loopy. A word of precaution that this might be the most money I've spent on sock yarn. That being said, the yarn is vibrant and squishy and just what I needed to get out of the doldrums.

I tried something new with the Warm Water Socks, decreasing the gusset at the heel rather than on the sides of the foot. I don't like how it turned out. The Philosopher described them as high-heeled socks and it's pretty apt. The arch to the foot is too severe.  I think I want to try TurtleGirl76's model of double decreases on the bottom of the foot. With a single set of decreases I ended up with extra material at the heel and it's already felting after one wearing.

That is everything that is done at the moment. I've got three pair on the needles to show you on Thursday for Sock Show Thursday, assuming I can find my 1.5 (2.5mm) needles and continue to make progress on one pair....

If you're keeping count, I've finished seven pair of socks so far this year and I'll have these next three done pretty soon. That will put me to ten pairs, averaging one pair per month. I don't think I'll make the 18 pairs that I knit last year, but last year's socks were primarily out of sport weight yarn and this year has been much more about fingering weight.  I have another 10 skeins picked out that I'd like to knit up "next" as socks, so I should be covered well into next year.

Someday I'll start knitting worsted weight yarn again. Can you imagine how fast that will go?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Shed Leaves: A Large Fall Leaf

In the fall trees shed leaves. Their bright colors and stemmy ends clutter the walk to the train and float down to get fixed in my hair when I'm not looking.

At Chez Hedgehog, I'm attempting to shed unfinished objects. Looking back through the past couple of months of posts I see I haven't kept you up to date on the things that have fallen off the needles. I'll note, none of these things have been properly blocked nor ends woven in but with the needles reclaimed, I'm calling them done enough for now.  Here's the first of what I've found piled up.

I did finally finish the Phoenix Fall Tree Color Affection (Affliction).  I ended up using around 1100 yards and I needed at least 150 more.

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This was knit, for those just tuning in, out of three skeins of Colinette and one skein of Louet Gems. The Gems was the closest that I could find in a chocolate brown.

I modified the pattern in that I started with the brown and introduced the green in the first section. I did not carry the brown into the second section, but moved on to the green with the mottled orange. Then, for the third section I did green, mottled orange, and orange.

I wanted a deeper shawl than the pattern described and followed someone's directions to only do two stitches before the wrap and turn in the third section.  While this should have made a deeper shawl, it also ate up a ton more yarn, far extended how long the project took, and meant that I was starting to drive myself stir crazy. Also, the shawl isn't that much deeper.

That picture above is wrong side out, which is actually how I plan to wear it.  I wanted something that looked like a fall tree, something that blended smoothly from color to color.  As you can see below, the harsher stripes of the pattern's right side, did not blend.

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As you can see a little more clearly, I gave up the green a couple of inches from the bottom. I wasn't through the third section yet, but I didn't have much green yarn left and I was hoping to do a little something with the leftovers.  That hope will go unrealized--I ran out of the mottled orange yarn entirely (again, before I formally finished the third section) and I knit with the plain orange until I was nearly out of yarn before binding off with Jenny's surprisingly stretchy bindoff.  While this is very stretchy, it's also a yarn pig and those rows were NOT short, so that took a lot of yarn.

There was a little bit of orange yarn left, perhaps 10 yards? Pyewacket got to it though and such you'll not get to see it again.

Here's a close up of the side I was picking up from with the wrap and turn. You can see at the bottom where it should have been much deeper....

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And here's the whole thing pre-blocking

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There's a wedding I'm hoping to wear it to in North Carolina in a couple of weeks, which means I need to wear in all the ends and get it laid out on something to block. Oh, and lay towels on top so that Pye and Gypsy don't help themselves to the freshly washed shawl.

Though when I first started this shawl, I had a lot of hope for using the pattern multiple times to use up some of the fingering weight yarn that's taking up space and isn't really appropriate for socks. By the time I finished this, though I really wasn't enamoured of it. The pattern itself is fine, it's clearly written, I had no trouble following the directions. I just am not as thrilled with the end product as I'd hoped.  Maybe once I'm a little further removed from the knitting of it....

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