Friday, January 31, 2014

All the Muddy Colors

I wound up the yarn for the Emergency Work socks by hand. I don't normally do this, I have a very nice swift and ball winder at home and usually find an hour every few months to wind up several skeins of sock yarn in efforts to keep myself supplied. Unfortunately, the least used needles at the moment are my size 0, 2.0 mm needles and all of the ready-to-go yarn was either meant for size 1 (2.25mm) or size 1.5 (2.5mm) needles. The KPPPM skeins are only one sock each, so that wasn't too much of a time commitment in winding.

As is probably obvious, I err on the side of colorful for my sock yarn, which balances nicely against the fact that I'm knitting the same 1x1 ribbed socks ad infinitum. I really enjoy the blends that are the product of Tina at BMFA's brain--frequently 4 colors, and the 2-3 color blends that Baah! has been putting out. I was unusually entertained knitting up the last pair of socks for OAmy wondering how long it would be until another stretch of that dayglo purple would come up again.

Something I don't like, however, is when there doesn't seem method to the colors or that the dyer just tried to fling every color possible on a skein. The yarn looks, at best, muddy to me.  There was a (name forgotten) dyer that I saw regularly at festivals for a while who was vociferous in telling me that she had 15+ colors on her skeins. I found her yarn totally unappealing. The many other knitters who purchased her yarn would probably disagree with me, but it is the benefit of such a robust and diverse yarn supply that we can have all types.

(side a)

I'm having some of those "too many colors, not enough plan" feelings about the Emergency Work Socks. We won't focus the stress level I'm at today that I've knit enough to actually think about this (10 rows maybe? but that's 640 stitches, and I can develop a strong opinion in that amount of time). I don't intend to stop knitting the socks, I like Koigu's KPPPM-which I like generally-and while I'm bothered enough to spend several hundred words on it in a blog post, it's not ugly yarn or doing something I find so unreasonable as to stop knitting it. And I expect someone in the category of people-I-knit-socks-for will probably send me an email raising their hand and mentioning that they like the colors. It's just a colorway that strikes me as too abstract and mottled, so it probably won't be going into my sock drawer.

(side b)

Car guy topped off the brake fuel and I'm in a wait and see to find out if I have a leak or some other phenomenon. Glad I stopped in to see him though, it seems to be official that we're expecting several inches of snow tonight and emergency parking requirements over the next few days.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Emergency Work Sock

While it is rare that I can make it out of the house in the morning without any knitting, it has happened once or twice and usually by midday, I start getting twitchy. Add to that a commute home earlier this week where I was not only without knitting, but also my tablet had died and therefore I had no reading with me (audiobook saved the day mostly), and it became obvious that a solution needed to be sought.

Meet the Emergency Work Sock. This is the last of the large batch of Koigu KPPPM that I purchased a couple of springs ago from Loopy.  My goal with this sock is to leave them in my cube for webinars, conference calls, and the occasional five minutes where I just need to knit a few rounds between the crazy.

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I'm intending for these socks to be a long term project, probably done by December but I'm certainly not in a rush. Other socks will follow me around trains, bars, etc.

We're almost up to freezing temperatures today, hovering in the high 20s, so of course we're expecting more snow and there's more predicted for the weekend. I'm adding in a quick trip to the car guy tomorrow morning, there's a light on in the car and while he assures me that it's probably nothing, I'd like to affirm that before Winter Storm Why-Are-They-Naming-Them bears down on Chicago. Rumor has it we're expecting anywhere between 0-10" of snow in the next three days, so I expect to be spending quality time shoveling out the car again.

I've been thinking about a couple more new hats for next winter and a new scarf or two, I'd like few more options to pull out for deep winter days. Hopefully those can be started in June or some month that doesn't remind me of snow.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sock Show Tuesday: As Opposed to Thursday

Socks are supposed to be for Thursday but it's cold and I want to show off the newest addition to my sock drawer.

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My BahBah Bright Sheep socks are done!

First pair of 2014, 58th pair total.  I've started tracking how many pair of socks I've knit in my Ravelry project notes. I figure my 100th pair of socks will need to be something very special. At my current rate, I'll need to worry about that in 3-4 years. I wonder if I'll still be knitting so many socks then?  I'd really just begun this sock binge 3 years ago, so perhaps. Maybe I'll suddenly become a sweater knitter. I could work with that...

Details of these socks. 

The yarn is Baah! La Jolla in the Green Lantern Stripes colorway. I did my usual 1x1 rib pattern over 60 stitches on size 1 (2.0 mm) needles. Standard flap gusset heel.

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I only got the steady stripes like that on the heel, as the ribbing broke it up the rest of the time. Your gauge and results will vary. I really like this yarn. It's a little bit pricey to be a standard workhorse yarn that I buy frequently, but for the hours of entertainment I get (plus, socks!), it's not a bad investment.

This is the second pair that I've knit myself out of this yarn, I still need to rip the first pair back to the heel. I'd tried a double decrease on the bottom of the sock that TurtleGirl76 swears by on all of her socks but I think I must have done something wrong because it turned out horribly. I may try it again with some worsted weight socks to see if I can figure out what about the technique didn't work.

Until then, I have very bright feet! 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Back on Wool, Brighter Than Ever

My hand is doing better. The verdict was a bruised ulnar nerve. I'd fallen off the couch reaching for some knitting (isn't that just the way?) and slammed my elbow into the floor a day or so before my hand suddenly started hurting. This lead to an annoyed nerve and hand pain. A whole lot of Advil later, the pain is far less and that makes me happy.

Once moving my hand no longer was a source of much whining and my IM doc had breathed a sigh of relief after I mentioned the banged elbow--not sure what tests we would have had to do had it not been a bruised nerve--I got back to the Philosoten Socks. These are pair 2 for 2014, and if I actually buckle down they might even see a sock mostly done before February.

The yarn is Fiber Optic Foot Notes in the Catamaran colorway. There are hints of darker blue and green in there, but I'm having a doozy of a time getting the camera to show them. It's one of the challenges with her yarns, it's stunning in person but hard to photograph. Trust me when I say that these shine brightly.


Part of the need for such vibrant color, I think, is some quiet desperation for any color among all of the snow and ice. While we missed the last snowfall, that going south of us and clobbering a friend in South Bend with another 4 inches, on Monday and Tuesday our highs are going to be negative Farenheit numbers. So I cling to my bright wool and remind myself that spring is going to come, eventually.

As I'm sure is obvious by the name, these are for the Philosopher. He picked out the yarn a while ago, when I pointed him and AudioGirl at a pile of skeins and told them to pick out what they wanted, with the caveat that I'd get around to knitting those socks eventually.  I think I've gotten through all the yarn AudioGirl picked.  I have to make more plans for 2014 socks. I wound up some yarn but haven't really set a coherent plan. Ah well, that's what February is for, right?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Oooh Shiny

I am, it seems, still weak in the face of a Wollmeise update at The Loopy Ewe. Sherri was sneaky, she put it up on a Thursday afternoon in a "oh, btw there's some extra yarn up this week and also some Wollmeise." sort of way.

It arrived last week and was promptly drooled over. I had managed to limit myself to 2 skeins but this does mean that yet again, I've not managed to make it out of January without buying yarn. Such it is.... I did just sort my Ravelry stash by date added to the database and I have bought a lot less yarn in the past 2-3 years than I used to. I think, if I can avoid sweater quantities this year, I might actually start getting ahead on it.  Of course, it would help if I would knit a few sweater quantities up as well.  So let's see, skip the baby blankets, knit up all the sweaters...

Where was I? Oh right, Wollmeise.

This time it was smaller skeins, only 383 yards/300 meters in a put up.

First up is Fledermaus.

The Philosopher is interested in this one and I bought it with him in mind. Not sure what I'll make out of it for him, I'm still working on those mitts for him and that's going most slowly, but he's suggested a small triangular scarf so that will probably send me in the direction of Stephen West's patterns.

The Petite Poison No 5 didn't photograph well.


All of my pictures are dark and fuzzy. Imagine a dark purple with red undertones in a solid.  I've added these two to the Wollmeise bin in the stash, which now has 12 skeins in it. Perhaps a Catkin or another pattern by Carina Spencer. I like her use of two colors and, as I only have 1 skein in each color, that would let me do something other than really small shawls, which I won't wear.

If only there weren't all of those works in progress nagging me...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Resting My Hand

I've done something to my left hand. I'm not entirely clear what, but there's been pain between my pinky and ring finger for about a week.  While knitting doesn't seem to make it worse, neither does it make it better and for the past couple of days I've refrained from knitting to see if that helps recovery time a bit. I've a doctor's appointment on Thursday to find out what, exactly, is going on.

I love my internal medicine doctor. She's smart, practical, believes in a little common sense before we throw all of the tests at things, and she has a robust patient portal. Deciding this morning I wanted to see her, I could log in, see what times she had available on Thursday, describe the incoming problem so she's prepared, and submit. Then I could clear my calendar, knowing immediately what time I'd see her, and go on with my day. So much easier than trying to ring her assistant tomorrow, navigate my calendar and hers, etc etc. 

The first pair of socks for 2014 is done, I finished them last Friday, but there's been very little knitting since then due to the hand issues.  I'll get some photos up soon. 

As I wait for my hand to sort itself out, perhaps this is a good time to go through the stash (again) and pull out those skeins I was thinking of getting rid of....

After all, there's a delivery from The Loopy Ewe that's supposed to arrive today. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

No Knitting at Jury Duty

Today was spent at Jury Duty. This was the first time I'd attended jury duty--the last time I was called was a few days before I moved from Queens. I sent them a copy of my new lease with my apologies. I had high hopes of being able to knit while I waited, there being nothing on the website about knitting not being allowed, but when I arrived at the courthouse knitting needles were included on the sign of things not allowed in the building.

While I'd only brought wooden needles and it's unlikely anyone would have said anything or that I would have set off the metal detectors with my oversized toothpicks, I opted instead to catch up on some reading. One romance novel (Julia Quinn's newest) and an hour and change of Terry Pratchett later (Reaper Man) and we were finally dismissed around 3 p.m.  A little over half the room was called for questioning but I am done--at least for a year.

It was probably the most patient group of adults I've seen in months. Because we couldn't go anywhere, because we only had this obligation, everyone just seemed to have settled in and accepted things. The daytime television was annoying but not to the point where anyone got angry. No one was regularly bothering the women who worked there. It was kind of like airport waiting only with less stress, no coffee (seriously, I didn't get coffee until almost noon), and without anyone getting frantic. During the last half hour or so, as the group being called was queuing and then leaving and then returning and then leaving again, people got a little fussy but overall, it wasn't an entirely unpleasant experience. It would have been better with coffee and knitting though.

Despite the county court rules, there's been knitting progress around Chez Hedgehog and I've finished my second project for 2014: a pair of overmitts for myself.  These are a duplicate of what I made for my massage therapist and meant to be worn either in a cold office or over my stretchy mitts that have touchpad fingertips.

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These were about 90 yards of Yarn Pirate BFL Aran in the Sea Lab colorway. I think they are size 7 needles?

I've also been charging along on my first pair of socks, the BahBah BRIGHT Sheep socks. I finished the first sock on a commute home and, during a staff development workshop last week, I plowed through most of the leg of the second sock.

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I need to count but another 5-6 rows and I should be ready to turn the heel. I plan to get that done tonight so tomorrow morning's commute is heel and onwards. No one should have to count before a full jar of tea.

Proof of the first full sock:


The yarn has a nice hand on it, the twist is fairly tight and it feels like it will wear well.

And while I don't have a picture for you, I have started working on the Lattice and Lace Afghan again! I have finally caught up past where I had run into trouble a couple of years ago  and I'm onto a new skein of yarn. I got through about 8 inches last night, though by the end of that my hands were complaining rather loudly, so that may be too much for one go.

I was debating a 2014 length goal again and thought I might generally shoot for 1000m/month again this year. Last year I managed it mostly though finishing up some long lingering projects--I don't take credit til the knitting is done-- and the Blonde's baby blanket (still lost by the USPS, yes, really).  But I think it's doable this year.  I'm at 283 meters already this year and it's not quite through the first half of the month. If Gypsy is amenable to letting me sit and also have my hands free, I might just make it.

Friday, January 10, 2014

May the Fourth (Year) Be With You

Time flies when you're knitting socks! It's my fourth blogiversary already. I was looking back through the archives and realized that I've knit about 50 pair of socks since I started, adopted another cat, moved twice, and all sorts of other things during that time.

I've been blogging here more recently because it doesn't come with feelings of obligation and deadline. My library stuff right now all has that feeling. Here is pretty and yarn and things actually getting finished! Visible progress! Last night I got the second fingerless mitt done, so I merely need to do a few rows for the thumbs and then start wearing them. It figures, the high today is supposed to be 40 and raining.

My archives also give me a history of how I have progressed (or haven't) as a knitter in the past four years. Plain socks truly are my rut, but they are a fairly decent rut to have. I've been rereading the Yarn Harlot's archives and I noticed, as I batch read, how often she would say "My Standard Sock Pattern."  Certainly, she knits a lot of interesting socks too, particularly those two years she did the Self-Imposed Sock Club, but at least I feel like I'm in good company by having a plain ribbed pattern that I like knitting with all sorts of beautiful yarns.

I was amused to see that when I watched the 2010 Winter Olympics, my goal was to knit a complete pair of socks in two weeks and these from sportweight yarn on size 2.5 (3.0mm?) needles. I've certainly developed as a sock knitter since then. I'm not much faster but a pair of socks in 2 weeks sounds pretty reasonable rather than a huge obstacle.

So now it's onward to another year. I can't predict a whole lot but I'm sure there will be socks. Everything else will just be amusing to see.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Finishing the Hat

It continues to be cold and as my place of work is trying very hard but not really able to keep up with the chill outside (we're still not in positive temps (-2F/-18C) when I started this post) it's very chilly in my cube.  I'm sitting on my heating pad and trying to stay warm.

But I have the first project of the year done!

Sunday night, I took a left turn on the Malabrigo Sockhead that I've been working on and decided that it was more likely to be worn as a beanie. I also noted that if I finished it, I could layer it under the bulky weight ear warmer (not handknit but it's cute) when I had to come to work today. A few decreases later and ta da, I have a hat!

Yes, I'm wearing it indoors right now. It's cold in here.

This took about 200 yards of Malabrigo sock weight on size 2 (2.75 mm) needles. I knit about 5" of ribbing and then 5" or so of stockinette, worked the decreases and cast off. I only cast on 128 stitches, so I ended up ending with 16 stitches rather than 10.  

It's soft and warm and obviously already in rotation. 

Tonight's plans? Finish up the fingerless mitts in planning for me and start a giant alpaca cowl. It may be headed back up to nearly 40F/4C by the weekend but I'm taking no chances.  

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Hunkering Down

The Philosopher and I are fine thus far through the multiple winter storms. The temperature is dropping steadily and I don't think it's stopped snowing yet (6.2" in the past 24 hours) but we're safe, warm, indoors, and have power and water. Both of our universities have closed except for safety/food/hospital for tomorrow and so we're both just planning to work here at home and continue eating the ham and beans we tossed in the crockpot yesterday and cornbread that I made yesterday evening.

I'm glad we ran errands yesterday when it was hovering near freezing. The garbage and recycling went out, we stopped by the library to pick up books (because, you know, neither of us has ANYTHING to read), and popped into the grocery for more mayo so I can make egg salad tomorrow. The downtown grocery wasn't very busy though the ones out by us, we expect, were all probably absolutely packed.

Last night we headed down into Chicago. We'd not planned on going anywhere but friends sent out a call last minute for a birthday celebration and we squeezed into a small bar with them and traded holiday stories and general revelry. Several Stone Vanilla Bean porters were drunk, among other beers, and--as I explained to a very pregnant friend--it tasted similar when you lick a drip of vanilla off of your hand when you're making cookies, a very vanilla forward flavor. I found this most acceptable.

Our cab ride home, having missed the last trains, was slippery though I only held my breath during one point. Lake Shore Drive was still surprisingly clear and traffic was very quiet, so drivers could navigate slowly.  We both really appreciated the gracious care of our cab driver last night and yes, we tip extra when the roads are bad.

I got a whack of knitting done at the bar and turned the heel of Sock 1.  This was challenging in a dark bar because it's rather hard to count rows by TV-in-the-corner light. Fortunately, stockinette meant that the yarn started striping nicely in two row segments, so I didn't have to resort to asking someone to hold my cellphone up so I could count. This picture is slightly truer in color.

And after that it made an interesting larger stripe on the bottom of the heel.  I showed this occurrence to the Philosopher after I was working on the gusset again. He'd been eyeballing the yarn with a couple of subtle hints that if I decided I didn't like the yarn after all, I could always make the foot his size and he'd suffer through somehow. The heel somewhat negated this, he really doesn't like nice even stripes, though we agreed that if push came to shove, he could just wear them inside out so he only saw the purl side. 

So it appears that these will be staying in my sock drawer, which is a good thing. Before I started knitting copious pair of socks, the Incredibly Patient Mother had purchased me some wool socks. As they are warm and continued to be useful, they stayed in rotation even after my pajama drawer had to start making a lot of room for handknits. Tonight I pulled on a pair and found that I'd worn holes in the bottom of both feet. Thus it is that a new pair will need be finished soon, lest I have to wash my woolies more frequently.  

I hope you're warm and safe where you are. We'll be watching the cold front from in our apartment and wrapped in wool.  

Friday, January 3, 2014

Why Aren't You Wearing a Hat?

Chicago has come through the snowstorm and today the sky is a brilliant blue with only the barest wisps of clouds.

It was -2F (-18C) when I left the house this morning, so it's amusing to read the New York Times telling us that it's "brutally cold" at 13 degrees. That said, I look north to my friends in Montreal and am grateful that it's a bit warmer here and headed up for the next 24 hours.

People watching on the train this morning saw all sorts of winter gear in full effect. I have a not-very-well-developed theory about why Chicago people prefer to wear ridiculously bright clothing all summer and how it's reactionary to being in our black coats all winter. Well, in my case, my down coat is cream and I look like a giant marshmallow from December thru March but everywhere I'm surrounded by black coats with some brown, some grey, and the very occasional pop of bright color. It makes everything and everyone seem very muted. I'm sure someone will remind me of that next summer when my eyes are searing from seeing how the spring 2014 Pantones (Freesia, really?) play out. (Also can't peplum die?)

We've also reached the point where I'm pretty judgmental of people who don't wear a hat. Up until now, okay, fine, if you want to have cold ears, that's up to you. Now? Even the Philosopher is wearing his ear warmers and, honestly, it wouldn't surprise me if he had borrowed one of my hats and worn it to the office today. [And yes, that's a self-reminder that a) I'm making him new mitts and haven't made enough progress and b) I bought yarn last year to hodgepodge together a hat for him that he promises to actually wear.]

Knitting continues slowly. I've got another inch or so done on the first sock. I was reading on my commutes yesterday and this morning, but I finished that book--Confessions of an Arranged Marriage by Miranda Neville, borrowed on my tablet from the library--so on the way home I have Terry Pratchett (Eric) and knitting to do.

Hoping you have a warm and indoor weekend wearing all the wool! Go put on a hat.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Freshly Started

Happy New Year!!

It's snowing heavily outside. We're getting lake effect snow and, when last I looked at, it told me that while we've gotten 8 inches of snow in the past 24 hours, that's only been about 0.4 inches of actual water. So it's light, fluffly, and it hasn't really stopped snowing since midday yesterday.

I ventured out midday to move my car. Once we get 4 inches of snow, we're considered to be under a snow emergency and Evanson puts alternate side parking rules into effect for a bit. While we haven't heard the sirens yet (we'll hear a short blast around 8 p.m. of the tornado sirens), that will be our notification that tomorrow we have to follow those rules. Having watched it snow all of yesterday afternoon and evening, it seemed pretty intuitive that tomorrow, my first day back to work, we'll have to observe the alternate parking and I wanted to get my car cleared off and moved while it was light out and while I could see a couple of parking spots. It's likely we'll need to observe on Friday as well and tomorrow evening it will be late and dark when I get home from work and then will get to hunt around for a parking spot where I can leave the car for Friday.

The days are beginning to be a little bit longer but I won't be coming home in the light for some time yet.

I did take knitting to the New Year's Eve party we attended last night. While I'm sure any of my current projects on the go would have been acceptable knitting --and while I didn't do a whole lot of knitting, rows were still knit. The new socks have begun. I've been really surprised and pleased with how the yarn (Baah! La Jolla) is knitting up. I was expecting spiral or pools but at 60 stitches/1x1 ribbing it's just stacking up green on purple. It's an acid green apple with a vibrant grape jelly.

Seeing a little other love recently is the second pair of mitts. Forgive the sepia toned picture. My camera battery decided it didn't feel like charging and I cannot get my cell phone to focus as well, nor can I seem to get colors correctly at all.

And the Philosopher's requested mitts, though this hasn't really been touched in a few days.

Somewhere around the apartment is also the blue hat, now with several inches of stockinette added to the ribbing, but I can't find it. I know I had it yesterday when I was at lunch (Korean BBQ, we met up with a couple of friends who are very nearly parents) but my rummage around the apartment didn't turn up anything.  Hopefully it'll show up in the next dig about.  

Hoping that you're staying warm and not having to dig too much snow.  I'm back to work tomorrow so it's the return of commute knitting and squeezing in a few rows here and there in the evening.  Off into 2014!

A Brief Distraction From Squares

If I wave new yarn under my nose, it might take off the feeling of "yet another square?" right? I complain but actually the square...