Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ducking My Head and Looking Guilty

I packed five skeins of yarn for the trip to Egypt.  I would have 18 hours of transition on the way to and just under 24 on the way home and those hours don't include the to/from NY.

I officially completed "a" sock and the ribbing on sock 2.

I know, I'm a little disappointed in me too. I'd hoped to get through an entire pair while on the trip at the very least.  That and the 11 books (no I'm not kidding, most of them were really short paperbacks) and nearly a gigabyte of podcasts.

I am caught up, finally, on Sticks and String.  I had fallen woefully behind on David, his cats, and the urban wilderness in his backyard and was happy to have a couple of dedicated hours where I could just enjoy his voice. I made a dent in the Cast On backlog too, and was grateful to have it when insomnia hit the last night in Cairo.
I had originally cast on in the Ewephoria Yarn.  Only, I recalled about 21 rows in why I have hesitated to use the yarn from that dyer--it is very splitty on little wooden needles. And I had wooden needles with me.  The prospect of doing M1R and M1L, repeatedly, on 2.5mm needles (US 1.5 I think?), with yarn that was splitting every single stitch wasn't a happy one.  I made it through the first round of the pattern repeat, got to the next round of M1 stitches and thought no, not worth it, I'll hate the socks by the end of it.

Ripped it out and recast on. Now I am using Ewetopia Yarn, dyed by owner Kathryn Ashley--who promises that a new shopping cart will be up on her website soon. Trust me, her sock yarn is GOOD.  It's soft, squishy, and so beautifully dyed. And in this particular skein, it's sport weight--so I needed to bring stitch count down a little to not end up with a sock that wouldn't fit.  Super dense squishy sock.  Yum. 

I cast on again before we left New York and despite flying out of JFK, through Paris/CDG, into Cairo and back--with all of the myriad layers of searches and security, I had no problems.  I am knitting on Harmony Wooden 4" DPNs from Knit Picks . 

On the plane I knit until I got too tired. Once we got to Cairo I had every intention of yarn everywhere with me.  Only, it had a pattern.  Perhaps it was not my wisest move to take a sock that required me looking at it.  In the evenings, I would knit, I promised myself.  But by Day 2 I wasn't feeling the hottest and knitting time turned into extra sleep time.  Six hours in the van to-from Alexandria? --I was in the back seat snoring.  By the last night though my hands were itching for wool.  I'd only gotten through a few pattern repeats and I couldn't come home with only the leg of one sock done, now could I?

So, into my ears when the headphones, on came Brenda Dayne, and I was rolling. Once we got to Paris and I was no longer sitting right on top of anyone, I really whipped along.  This last picture was taken somewhere over the Atlantic, about 5 or 6 hours into the 8 hours flight to JFK. 

I immediately cast on sock 2 and did finish the ribbing before we arrived at the gate.  At which point in time I was so exhausted that no more knitting occurred until I got back to Wisconsin.

Friday, January 29, 2010

More than One Option

Hi Ducklings--I'm back! Didja miss me? Cairo was awesome. I'll be writing about the trip details over at Hedgehog Librarian if anyone feels the need to wade through it again with me.  

I was thinking a couple days ago about the difference between new things as generally received in the knitting world as opposed to new things in the technology world. It was difficult not to with the advent of the new Ipad from Apple. Immediately I started hearing it called a "Kindle Killer" among other things, though reviews are mixed and I doubt we'll have a clear picture in anything less than six months to a year. I wonder if Jeff Bezos is nervous?

And then I thought about the knitting world and the sharp contrast of how if I published a newly designed pattern or pattern book tomorrow, it wouldn't render other patterns "dead" nor would I be a "killer." I might have an awesome new technique but it's rare that one technique (beyond the knit stitch, which in and of itself can be done multiple ways if one considers throwing vs. picking) will work for every single item we're working on between now and the end of knitting time.

Knitting doesn't have an expiration date, as Franklin Habit likes to point out with the Victorian patterns he translates and updates for us, or other older patterns he genially mocks. If it did we wouldn't be searching for old lace patterns, historical socks, etc.  We wouldn't be drawing on Alice Starmore and Elizabeth Zimmerman and obscure lace patterns from parts of Europe that have changed names a few times over the past centuries. 

Certainly there will seemingly everyday be new big things:  Clapotis, Cat Bordhi's latest book, a Wollmeise update. And these things will come and go in popularity. But the craft of knitting is timeless and even most patterns are*. I think this may be enhanced by the fact that knitting is considered (though not historically) a women's craft and women tend to collaborate more than we compete**. However it comes about, I'm pleased to be a part of something where we grow collectively and progressively without the inherit smacking down, beating, or triumphing over others within the craft. 

In case anyone was wondering, I'm not an Apple girl, I've had PCs forever and expect to as the computers I have meet my needs. With 90% of what I do being Web-based, I'm looking more for functionality in Firefox than I am on the Linux/Windows/Mac platform. I have a Sansa mp3 player, two IBM Thinkpads (freelance laptops) and a sturdy desktop that some guys in a little shop in Queens built me a few years ago when my Not-My-Boyfriend or Roommate fried the motherboard of my last desktop. I don't have any issues for or against Apple.  But I have the tools I have and right now--I'd rather spend money on wool.  

* We of course make exceptions for really horrible intarsia sweaters or 80s power sweaters, though even those seem to be back in vogue again.
** Usual caveat of yes, men used to do this, yes women compete, etc etc so on and so forth.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

UFOlympics: Lattice and Lace Afghan

**Prescheduled, I'm still in Egypt...still back next week**

I'm not taking part in the Ravelympics this year--instead, the UFOlympics.

Enter the Lattice and Lace afghan.  According to Ravelry I started it in May of 2007 which makes it nearly 3 years old. It is on long pointy straights and has been neglected in it's basket for a long time.  Once in a while I'll break it out, do just enough rows to remember the pattern and then ignore it again.

I can't find the pattern I originally used.  Wrong side purl rows with K2 P2 border as memory serves and then the right side is something like K2 P2 *K2 YO [K3TOG or S1K2TOGPSSO] YO K2 P2... It's very readable, which is good. More on that when I actually pick it up.

It is out of Red Heart, so while it's not my beloved 100% merino, it'll be ridiculously washable. This is especially good as this yarn has lived with me in either three or four states over the years. 2 apartments, 2 cats, etc etc etc...yah, time for a good scrubbing. And it will be huge. I'll take a width measurement when I start again but based on how much of the burgundy and pink I have--we're looking at just short of wow-big.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hedgehog on Holiday

Thank you for visiting Hedgehog Knitting. I will be offline until 1/26/10: visiting Egypt with M, riding camels, searching for wool, and exploring the new layers of airport security.   

Please leave a message after the tone: 


Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Feline: Meet the Widget

It couldn't be a real knitting blog without my cat, right?   I can't promise she'll make an appearance every Friday, she's quite sociable but not always amenable to posing for the camera.

Gypsy, also known as Mini-Widget, Widge or Mouse, moved in late last November.  After evicting one pot of parlor ivy and chewing the shamrocks into submission, she's usually content to chase after catnip mice, beg for an extra treat or two, and scale tall bookshelves in a single (mostly successful) bound.

And this is her favorite position, draped halfway over my shoulder.  It makes it hard to go to work in the morning when it means setting down a snuggly, purring hot water cat.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pay No Attention to the Feburary Project: Clapotis in Malabrigo

**We interrupt this blogpost to remind you of the people of Haiti.  You can donate money towards relief to the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders (Knitters without Borders, do check in with Stephanie), or one of the other places in this list compiled by the Washington Post.**

This is what happens when I don't let myself cast on knitting projects until I leave on vacation and I'm so sick of my Christmas knitting that I refuse to acknowledge its very existence.

First it was just finding the yarn. I'd just get it out so that I knew where it was.  Harmless, right?
(Never mind that I dug through the bins like rabid raccoon searching for an elusive unopened chocolate pudding cup.)

Then, I thought, perhaps I'll wind one or two skeins. It's always good to be prepared to start the project. Granted, this meant I had to get out and set up my swift (the ballwinder has a permanent residence on the kitchen table) but hey, it's not like I was avoiding the 482 things I have to do this week, was it? No.....

I sat down Sunday evening to work on the databases I manage for one of my clients. The client-dedicated laptop has been moving at increasingly slow speeds of late. Some days it'll zoom along, most days (read Sunday and Monday nights) I have time to knit a complete 50 stitch row while it's switching from Excel to Access or to Outlook. Considering how many emails and spreadsheets I was trying to flip between, I needed something relatively uncomplicated that I could pick up and set down mid-row.

As of when I finally went to bed on Sunday I was through the set up rows and on the fourth repeat of the increase rows. I should be through to the straight rows before I leave on Saturday morning, even though I have not yet begun to pack.

Forgive me February, for I have started your project early. I am planning to join the UFOlympics to make it up to you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

January's Project: Primavera

Here's January's project on the "list of things to tackle": one pair of socks. I'm absolutely hopping up and down to cast them on, get started and zoom along. Only, I'm not starting any new small portable projects until I leave for NYC & Egypt on Saturday. This was a conscious decision I made while I was winding the five skeins of sock yarn I'm bringing for the 9 day trip. So I'm desperately wanted to tackle this and only this.  *sigh*....I'm being a good hedgehog and waiting.  Delayed gratification hopefully will mean fast knitting and it's not like I don't have holiday knitting that STILL isn't done.  

Pattern: Primavera (see sidebar)

Yarn:  Ewe-Phoria Yarns Handpaints  SockItToMe Superwash in Pacific

Needles: Knitpicks Harmony, 4" DPNs, size TBD.

I bought this yarn on Ebay a few years ago, while I was living in Chicago.  I have some other of her yarns and have had mixed experiences with them.  This skein could have benefited with a couple more ties to keep it from creative unlooping on the swift and not being moved/stuffed in a bin by yours truly for quite so long.

What makes this a new-skills project is that this will be the first "non-vanilla" sock I've done. I've done stockinette; I've done ribbing, but not a pattern.  As I don't seem to memorize pattern repeats instantly the way others seem to, this will be a challenge. 

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Goals, Projects, Stuff Already Underway....

There are a number of projects, plans, and things to be knit at Chez Hedgehog in 2010. 

On Ravelry I signed up to be part of "5K Stashdown"--which is a goal to use at least 5K of the yarn that we had as of 1/1/10.  There's not a "you can't buy anything" restriction but the idea is to get you back into your stash, use up some of the beautiful yarn you already own and perhaps do a little cleaning out.  Or at least organizing. So I have a little bit of accountability.  This blog will hopefully be more of that for me.

I have picked out 12 projects, one per month, that I'd like to work on and hopefully completely this year.  If you're on Ravelry and you pop over to my queue, it's the first twelve projects, and yes, in that order. I'll spotlight them as they come up but it's a pair of socks, 5 shawls, 2 scarves, 2 sweaters, 1 hat, and 1 cowl/mittens set. These all have designated stash yarn that will be used for them, so I don't need to buy anything new.

I'm off to holiday in Egypt in just under a week, and I've wound 5 skeins of sock wool to take with me.  It might seem a bit extreme, as I'm only going to be gone for 9 days, but at least 48 hours will be "in transit" and I've found that it's best that I not run out of yarn (last trip I exhausted reading material and both mp3 players long before I got home).  Some Going-to-Egypt Yarns:

I have signed up for Susan Pandorf's Evenstar Knit-Along (KAL) and I'll be using stash yarn, either in brown or red for it.  Those were the only two yarns where I had enough yardage in laceweight.  I'm leaning towards the red. 

Potential Shawl Yarns: 

And finally, there are the lingering things that need to be finished or frogged.  That would include 2 afghans, 1 scarf, 1 pair of fingerless mitts and at least one shawl. 

One of those afghans:

So there's lots to do and just under 12 months to do it in.


I have some specific knitting goals set for 2010 and wanted to blog about them a little more at length, but without overwhelming my primary blog: Hedgehog Librarian.

A little about me: I've been knitting for almost seventeen years, with a lot of on and off in that first decade. My grandfather's girlfriend taught me and my mom was genius enough to make me take knitting with me when I moved out to go to graduate school. I started really expanding my skill set during/after grad school and now I'm rarely without sticks and string.

I teach a kids group and that's been a huge influence in growing my skill set. Inevitably one of the kids will come to me with a "I want to..." something I don't know how to do. My stock answer is "Great, let's start that next week." Usually this is so I can track down a pattern and teach myself. I learned how to knit socks over a weekend for that particular reason. Last fall I taught two advanced techniques courses for the kids and they really are blossoming on their own. It's rewarding .

I have what I think is a ridiculous amount of yarn. But I love it so. As much as possible I'm going to try and do some stash knitting this year, though I refuse to beat myself up for purchasing yarn now and then. Fiber festivals, keeping my local yarn store in business--these are important things in my mind. And there I have the opportunity to help small businesses and often women-owned/run businesses going. Very important. (Also, as I tell myself some days, it's yarn. I could collect something far more expensive/only decorative/harmful etc...)

I'm on Ravelry as PhireAngel if you're looking for me there.

I'm Either Brilliant Or... Not

My obligation knitting for this spring comes in the form of a couple of crib sized blankets for some friends' imminent arrivals. When I ...