Saturday, March 30, 2013

You're Out...

There's a yarn store that's walking distance from my apartment. It's one of the lures that the Philosopher used when trying to get me to move to or at least visit this neighborhood with him. And I'll admit, it was a tempting one. The reality of store hours plus home distance to work have rather inhibited any much yarn store enjoyment.

I'd tried visiting the shop once before and was disappointed in the selection and really irritated by the staff person (owner? unsure) who tried to save me from my yarn purchase. While I can still pass for a graduate student, the assumption that I didn't know the first thing about knitting was exceptionally grating.

Yesterday, with some spare time on my hands, I ventured in again. Had I been too hasty? Was I not giving it enough of a chance?

I was, unfortunately, disappointed again. The taste of the owner is not mine. As such, the yarn available is not much of what I expect to have in my stash. I asked the woman working (I hope she wasn't the owner) if there were any metal DPNs in the store, a deficiency I'd noted on my first trip. I own a few sets of wooden DPNs and particularly the rosewood ones from Sibling the Elder are lovely, but by and large I fall back on metal needles.

The woman working told me that metal needles were just too slippery and just too hard for most people to use. Huh. Okay that's a style preference and the popularity of Signature Needles would argue otherwise but it's her choice. Strike 1.

When I asked about summer yarns--what new cottons or such were coming in, she was blank. New yarns? Summer yarns? They had some stuff that had been new the previous year, maybe that? Strike 2.

Venturing over to what sock yarn I could find, it was mostly highly variegated. I pulled out one of the more glaring examples and saw it was Kaffe Fasset. Of course, I commented, this much crazy bright with stripes.  The woman instantly agreed and then remarked that no one knit plain socks, that was just too boring.

Except, I replied,when you have sock recipients who like things like solid color socks. I'll be the first to admit that I do like changing it up between the more neutral tones but not all of us can wear neon on a regular basis. Strike 3.

We chatted politely as I meandered back towards the door. I commented on needing to knit baby blankets and preference for machine washable cotton, she suggested a highly variegated wool yarn of which there wasn't enough in one colorway. I also asked about number of plies in a certain popular superwash yarn and she made it sound like I'd said something highly inappropriate.

So, having given it a second shot, I can confirm that the store is a disappointment for me. Fortunately, Chicago has a number of other yarn stores and there are a wealth of store owners willing to ship to me.

Have I mentioned looking forward to YarnCon next weekend?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sock Show Thursday: Merrily Thru March

I had rather figured that by the end of March, I wouldn't be daily turning to my fairly large stash of handknit socks. I, of course, would be wrong, but at least it hasn't snowed a whole lot here recently. I only saw a handful of flakes today and we're promised 40s by the end of the week.


The March socks continue. I'm halfway down the foot. Considering I only have until Sunday to meet my self imposed arbitrary deadline, this is a little troubling. But there are commutes to go still and I'm now listening to Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.  So far, I don't like the characters particularly, though the language tone is very comfortable.  I'm not sure if this will improve, Philosopher suggests not. I'm reading it at the suggestion of My Friend the Lawyer, so I may need to call him at the end and see what he finds most entrancing about it.

Here's my attempt at an interesting picture


It's very washed out and the blues are all wrong--those should be teal--but it's the only shot I could get that had the inside of the skein clear.

On one hand, I do like these socks. The yarn has been good, the project has ticked right along. And yet I'm also really done with them. That last half a sock just isn't interesting. I want to go spend time with my swift and ball winder and all the yarn in my stash--or even better--all of the yarn on Etsy and The Loopy Ewe. But I have a sock to finish...oh the torment.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Hat Top

I'd promised a picture of the top of the latest Sockhead hat.


Tada. It's gone off to live in the gift bin until further notice.

I like how the spiral came out on top. Philosopher has confirmed that it does not fit the average adult male head, so this will be limited to a female or child sized person instead.

The remainders of the yarn are headed for the leftovers bin and officially out of the real yarn bins.  We won't discuss the amount of yarn ends presently taking up space as leftovers. It's not all that much, but a very real dread of weaving in ends on a huge blanket or having to seam a huge blanket make me reticent to tackle it. Plus, the Philosopher keeps saying he'd like to make more monsters and/or mochi mochi and leftovers are great for those.

I did, last weekend, get out the pink/burgundy afghan again. That project is such an albatross. A few hours on it and I thought I'd make a dent but I am realizing a) it's not going to be as wide as I'd like and b) if I actually knit it up to the length of all of the yarn I have, it will strongly resemble an afghan the Incredibly Patient Mother made during my early childhood--wide enough for one person and really long. I haven't decided if duplicating said afghan (although mine would be in a much more detailed pattern and pink rather than blue) is a good idea. Perhaps a weekend marathon knitting while watching Firefly or some such would help me decide.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Knitting on the Horizon

(No good knitting pictures today, so here's a photo of that little twig that was just starting to come back a few months ago. It's a happy little fern now.)

I've made a ton of progress on those teal/black socks since last week. Along with Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett in my earbuds, they've been making the commute and that lends itself to a fair amount of knitting, assuming I get a seat.

Of course, I'm now referring to everyone as "Our Jason" and burst into laughter frequently for no apparent reason, which seems to trouble other CTA riders. I'm about done with the heel flap on the second sock (see, told you there was progress) and then it's just the foot to go, so I should be able to finish that in the next 9 days prior to month's end. Maybe, if I'm very diligent, I can get back to the pair for the Philosopher and get a bit ahead for April.

YarnCon finally posted their teaching schedule. I considered the drop spindle class but decided against it for now. We're only three months into this year of hope that I can cut down the stash a bit and doing something guaranteed to send me into a fit of buying all the fiber probably isn't my wisest move.  Besides, the vendors at YarnCon look interesting enough on their own.

Also, the sockhead hat is done and blocked. I still need to weave in the ends and deposit it in the gift bin for future gifting.

I have at least one new knitting deadline: the Blonde is having a second child. Her first, a now 2.5 year old, got a log cabin baby blanket. I know that blanket got pretty regularly used, so I don't mind the prospect of another knitted gift for her. I haven't decided yet if it will be a blanket or baby sweater or what.  Whatever I do, it needs to get started very soon so it's done before the baby is!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sock Show Thursday: Can She Pull Ahead?

I was really excited to be coming into the third month of the year ahead on my sock knitting. With a vague plan to finish at least one pair of socks every month, I already was nearly thru 2 pairs and well on my way. And then socks go missing* and life gets in the way and suddenly it's nearly mid-March and I have very little sock knitting done on any pair that would like to claim the title of 3rd pair.

But I do have a little work to show you and hopefully my usual sock knitting skills will kick back in soon. Perhaps I can find a couple of webinars that I need to listen to for work....

I don't think you've seen either of these socks yet. First up, I'm working on yet another pair for the Philosopher. He's on his sixth pair of socks. Is there some kind of sock knitting equivalent that equals a sweater? I hope not.  

This is the last of the BMFA surprise yarn, which in my mind means that I'm running low on BMFA. In actuality I have several skeins of BMFA and a lot of other sock yarn but the artificial scarcity keeps ticking in my head and I know it's time to get out another half dozen skeins of yarn from the stash and wind them up "for next."  Because obviously I'm going to finish these two pair of socks in the next 45 minutes.  


I'm doing the 1x1 rib again on size 1.5, 2.5 mm needles. This is the first sock. It is living in the black and white polkadot bag from Piddleloop, who I'm looking forward to seeing in a couple of weeks here in Chicago for YarnCon. 

The other socks I've mentioned but they've seen a lot less love. I'm doing these on size 1 needles (2.25 mm), which felt so huge after working on size 0 needles but the progress on them has been slower than I'd hoped. I think I assumed that they'd magically get worked on at home, where they've been living, but that spontaneous production has all gone into the hat I blogged about earlier this week.  Probably time to work them into the going-to-work rotation...


The yarn is Blue Ridge Yarns Kaleidoscope and these are for me. I say that publicly now so I don't get three quarters of the way down the foot and change my mind. I want more socks in my rotation (now that we're rapidly approaching spring, of course) so I'm claiming these as selfish knitting.

I have ordered some new size 0 (2mm) needles to replace the lost ones and those should arrive from The Loopy Ewe soon. Y'all should be very impressed that I bought size 0 circs and DPNs and NO YARN AT ALL.  I'm trying to wait until Yarn Con.

*I did call the bar, they did not have my bag with knitting in it.  Hopefully it's gone to a new home.  

Monday, March 11, 2013

Absent Minded Knitting

Trying to work through yarn from the stash has had some interesting consequences. One rule of thumb for yarn ownership and retention is that if you don't love the yarn, it needs to leave the stash and go to somewhere that it will be loved. While I can usually make the hard decisions on yarn that was a mistake, often time I will find a yarn that I'm a little less committed to but which comes with memories. That's the yarn I bought while on vacation with my best friend from high school. This is the skein that seemed like such a good idea on the day that AudioGirl and I were hanging out. Over here is a skein that I bought because everyone online was buying it and there was that funny conversation, etc etc etc.  While the yarn itself may not be as special to me, the memories are and, as knitting it lets me extend the memory and stop it needing room in the stash, that yarn has been starting to show up on the needles more frequently.

This yarn memory was of the dyer, Dizzy Blonde Studios. I bought this from her very first update on Etsy and she's someone I knew sorta/kinda thru the internet. I was a regular Plurk user at that point, hanging out with various internet knitting friends, enabling left/right/center, and I was convinced that I was going to knit all of the shawlettes. I had even cast on something.

058Fast forward a couple of years and the unfinished shawl was still lurking. I'm rather less than enthused with small shawls that don't actually keep one warm and end up falling off my shoulders. Continuing with a single skein shawlette was out. I have, however, been hoping to stock up the gift bin again and so I turned to a tried and true hat pattern.

This project has been passively knit, cast on a few weeks back, absent mindedly picked up at home, stuffed occasionally in my purse. I have no deadline for it, no particular focus, it's just a Sockhead Hat being knit when I get a moment, so it surprised me when I realized that I've actually made quite a lot of progress and should be starting to think about casting off in the nearer rather than later future.

The yarn has pooled and puddled like crazy. That's not something I particularly enjoy but the result is rather pretty and unusual, so I can live with it.

I need to start some decreases soon, so I probably should consult the pattern again and see what the plan is. And once it's done I hope to get another hat or two on the needles. I'd forgotten how much faster than socks they can be.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Little Bit of Photography

I've never been one who self-identifies as a photographer, the majority of my friends and I were usually theater and music people, happy in that self expression of artistic nature rather than behind a lens screen. Photography was always Sibling-the-Elder's hobby and, like Agatha Christy novels and cobweb alpaca lace shawls, something I've been happy to leave to her. I'd rather model for her and if you ever see me give a presentation, you'll usually see her credited for at least one of the photos I use in my decks--frequently of my spoiled cats.

I do, however, own a heavily abused PowerShot SD1000 which has never quite been the same after the soaking it got in Hawaii in 2011.  The camera for me holds far more interest as a means to an end rather than an artistic tool. I'm less concerned with telling a story, as the Philosopher described a photographic goal, instead I'd like a true to color, reasonably interesting image that shows you whatever it is that I'm presently knitting. To that end, when Franklin Habit offered a recent class on Photographing Your Fiber at Murphy's Pub, I sprinted over to the website to sign up.  Yarn, a class taught by a friend, a chance to make my pictures a little more functional, and a full-service bar? Count me in!

Franklin's an excellent teacher, if you have a chance to take a class with him, I highly recommend it.  Also, Murphy's did quite well keeping us supplied with beverages (not too many though, we were trying to hold cameras steady!).

Sibling-the-Elder got me a light box kit for Christmas and this was the first time I'd had the chance to take it out of the box and do something with it. While I still have a lot of exploring to do, here are some of the photos I took during our exploration time during class.

I tried again to photograph the WendyKnits Mystery Shawl, as that's often proved difficult. The yarn, from FiberOptics, is incredibly bright and I've found it difficult to capture.


Taking color out of the photo was a way I'd not considered photographing the piece before.

Also, I learned that taking better pictures can show off every strand of cat fur that I've brought with me.


I finally got a true to color picture of the Philosofive Socks, which I've been recently told have been redubbed the Mating Iguana Socks.  I didn't realize iguanas became that vibrant during mating season but the socks are being worn and enjoyed so I don't worry too much about their title.


Finally, something Franklin said was that no one really cares about what a whole sock looks like, we've all seen them before, and that point really came home to me. Especially considering that I don't knit lace socks, it's rare that you'll need to see the full sock picture that I usually take in order to have a sense of anything except progress. It started me thinking about other ways I could show you the yarn, perhaps a little detail and maybe find something a little creative in it for all of us. (Hmm, there's creativity sneaking into these "better pictures of socks"....dangerous that). I ended up with this pic of the Ground Up Muppet Socks.


There are some other photos on Flickr if you click thru. My hope is to get to better use the functions on my camera and take at least slightly more thoughtful pictures.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Things Unseen

The Code4Lib socks may be permanently missing. The last place I remember seeing them was a bar, which isn't a good sign. I don't really mind about the sock or even the needles, though that was my circular size 0 9" and might also have been DPNs, I'm not sure.  I do mind that the bag was a custom run one done by a seamstress in NC who isn't making them anymore.  I still have to call the bar but I'm not especially hopeful. The bag also could have ended up in the cab we took home or on the sidewalk by the bar....

I did finish AudioGirl's stockings and they've gone to her, sadly without a final picture. Two years ago I gave her three pair of handknit socks for her birthday and we promptly had the mildest winter we've had in years. She never wore them. I assume that finally finishing the boot/socks means that spring will be here by the end of the upcoming week.  The Philosopher and AudioGirl have assured me that they would be okay with this. 

I've been working from home for a couple of days trying to get a better sense of my current obligations, time needs, etc.  It involves a lot of post it notes and eventually I'm told a project management system. The Philosopher is trying to get something built that I can use but as I expect that to take another month or two, I'm trying to find some stop gaps.  What all those will be and how that will work is as yet unclear.  

I was feeling sad about not having any new shiny yarn of late and then AudioGirl called. Smiley's Yarns in New York is having a sale on Filatura Lanarota Wool Sprinkles.  It's $.99/skein, which means a long sleeve sweater could be had for about $12. As neither of us needs 5 new sweaters, we paired together. So I'll have some new yarn to show you soon. 

I also went digging around in the stash, trying to feel inspired, and decided on the next dozen or so pair of socks that are coming up.  So apparently I don't need any new sock yarn just yet. I have cast on a replacement third pair for the year in case the other blue socks don't show up.  I'm only about 2 inches into the cuff, with a row here and there between my research data drudgery.  

Which...I should get back to. I've got another 446 emails in that inbox to deal with (down from 730!)

Embracing a Color of Fall

Being out of Loopy Academy Homework has left a strange deadline hole in my life that SEVERAL pregnant friends are attempting to fill. Yes, ...