Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Change In The Weather

I looked out my window and got the shock of my life. I saw near white-out conditions, with winds whipping gusts of up to 50 miles per hour. All this instead of a little rain. That's all it was earlier. Rain and 50 degrees (F). The last time the winter winds went haywire, my 9-foot patio umbrella snapped in half and the outdoor furniture started moving down toward the back gate. Good thing I still have cozy knits on my mind.

Raglan Cardigan
The start of a top-down raglan cardigan in Noro Silk Garden, color 224 (disc.)

Blue Sky Alpaca Organic Cotton
Organic cottons from Blue Sky Alpacas, destined to be a textured knit throw

In the quick update department, I've got one Monkey done and I've started on number two. A new yarn, Fiesta Boomerang in the color "Sedona", is all wound up and waiting to be knit into Lisa Dykstra's "Sedona" socks. I thought the synchronicity was too perfect to pass up.

In Other News
Some of you know the details of my spinal fusion and how I tried to wait until artificial discs were available. Reading this New York Times article makes me glad I didn't. The article implies that some of the glowing reports of success may have been tainted by surgeons with a financial interest in the devices. In addition, research results may have been cherry-picked so that failures were under-represented.

My replacement discs came from bone harvested from my hip. It still hurts on occasion, but at least I didn't risk rejection or rupture of synthetic materials in my spine. Thank goodness for small favors?

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

What Hath Project Runway Wrought?

I was perfectly positioned on my (once) cream colored work bench (leg propped up, two pillows behind my back), quietly knitting away with some nondescript TV background noise to keep the machine humming. During a channel change break, I somehow landed right in the middle of a mini-marathon of all the current season episodes of Project Runway. Next to Law and Order, Project Runway is wonderful television to knit by. See what a few hours of mindlessly entertaining television can do?

Refrigerator Monkey avec Chewy Monkey
My handsome assistant, Changito, dangles the nearly completed Monkey from the side of the refrigerator. Cheeky monkey. This terrific V-shaped heel turns out to be a perfect fit for me.

Chewy Monkey - heel detail
I'm so glad to have found Chewy Spaghetti yarn. I really enjoy the liveliness of the colors and the twist of the fibers. This sport weight clay, light blue, mocha, chocolate and cream combo is called "Simpatico". You'd probably laugh if you saw me stop every so often to give the yarn cake a little squeeze. I'm a weirdo.

I've changed a couple of small things in this flawless, oft-knit pattern: I did 5 repeats instead of 6 on the leg and I've gone with a stockinette instead of patterned instep. I did this for a couple of reasons. First, the heavier weight of the yarn might tend to make a patterned sock feel even thicker inside shoes, and second, I'm concerned about the yardage.

The sport weight put-up is 4 ounces, or approximately 250 yards. I weighed the remaining yarn after turning the heel and it seems I should have enough to squeeze out 2 socks. Sadly, I do not have petite feet and, in this case, my digital scale is my great, good friend.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Time Well Spent

If you were to measure it in dog years, it took 7 of them to make this pair of socks. Technically, I started them last July while laboring under the delusion that I could whip them out as a birthday present in August. Heh. Fast-forward one year and, this time, they'll be right on time.

You cannot know the joy I felt as I tightened the grafted toe stitches on my hand-carved darning egg. So may I introduce to you my 7 year-old socks:

Hedera Socks

Pattern: Hedera (unmodified)
Yarn: Sundara Yarns (Superwash Merino sock, "Red over Orange", 350 yds.)

Since the person to whom these socks will be gifted appreciates a fine vintage, I think that a year in the making was time well spent.

Other business
Imagine my surprise when so many logophiles came out of the woodwork. Be still my beating heart. Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliaphobia? Callipygian? Funicular? Splendid! Thank you for expanding my word horizons.

blog buttonCan you believe it? Debi has named me a Rockin' Girl Blogger. I now have the honor of proposing others:

Chris (Crafty Angels) - She's leading a group of truly giving knitters
Abi (Noblin Knits) - One funny, smart and well-traveled Brit
Sarah (Persnickety) - Sweet, talented Chicago-area knitter
Anne (Knitspot) - Funny, witty, down-to-earth designer and knitter
Sarah (Carpe Diem) - A heck of a writer, with a sharp wit and historical bent

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Sock and The Earworm

One week after casting on the first Dream In Color Sleepwalker sock, I can happily report it is complete. Pardon the paddle foot:

Sleepwalker Socks - top view
(Modified "Sleepwalker" - instep)

Sleepwalker Socks - side view
(Modified "Sleepwalker" - side view)

Once I've done the pair, I'll detail all the modifications I made to this well-written pattern. For now, suffice it to say I really like how it turned out. All I have to do is to keep the first sock handy for the handful of heel, instep and toe changes that produced this lovely item.

Debi asked whether there was sufficient yardage with this sock-weight Dream In Color yarn to safely knit socks top down. Sock, the first, weighed in at 1.25 ounces. With approximately 4 ounces to the skein of Smooshy, I'd say the answer is an unqualified "yes." In fact, I'm sure I'll have lots of leftovers.

What about the earworm referenced in the title of this post? Thanks to Knit Mongrel, I couldn't stop myself from humming this winning number from Britain's Got Talent: Nessun Dorma from Puccini's Turandot. I certainly couldn't sleep as I knit, purled and sang "All'alba vincerò! (At daybreak, I shall win!)" toward the toe finish line.

Bravo, Paul Potts.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Some Kind of Record?

Dream In Color Sleepwalker SocksI think it is for me at least. I have already turned the heel on my first Dream In Color Sleepwalker Sock. I just couldn't put it down.

I'm making some mods as I go along which is absolutely no reflection on the pattern, by the way. I just wanted to see what this yarn with its muted variegation would do with an Eye of Partridge heel. There's an almost negligible amount of color concentration because of the shorter rows, but no real pooling.

I'm also working the instep in the previously established leg pattern instead of switching to the single braided leaf motif in the original. Quite likely, I'll knit another pair with the proscribed design features, but for now I'm having way too much fun seeing the knitted effect of the smaller motif emerge. Hopefully, the designer will forgive me...

Speaking of forgiveness, I hope my Sockapalooza pal will pardon me. I had no intention of being a tough customer. On the contrary, I wanted you to have as much latitude in your decisions as possible. I have complete faith in your choices. No sweat, pet. This is really supposed to be fun!

Late. I'm off to sip something cool and fruity on this warm, late Spring day in Chicago.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Batter Up!

Thank you, thank you for all the lovely compliments on the Mona socks! Now that the pressure of completing my Sockapalooza 4 contribution is off, I've decided to start a new pair - this time using Dream In Color (DIC) "Smooshy" sock yarn and a pattern designed specifically for DIC by an online acquaintance, Monica Nappe!

I was so excited when I read on Monica and Lynette's blog that she was designing socks for some of my favorite yarn. As soon as they became available online through Knitter's Palette, you know I had to lend my support and pick up a couple. Naturally, I (of the extensive stash) already had the yarn.

Sleepwalker Socks
The pattern, Sleepwalker Socks, features a braid-like leaf motif on the leg and along the top of the instep. For these, I'll be using Smooshy in the Beach Fog colorway which I think looks so summery!

Since there is no timeline on these, I'll work on them whenever I want a break from Forest Canopy. Nope. I haven't forgotten my triangular shawl. It's actually what's next in the non-sock category. This time I think I'll avoid any predictions on when it might be finished. Am I trying to manage expectations? Nah, just planning on working at my own pace.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

FO: At Last!

blue sock monkeyCan you believe it? Who knew it would take this long to finish a pair of socks? I certainly didn't. At last, my Sockapalooza 4 pal's pair is all sewn up. I started these socks in early May and it took 3 weeks to finish Sock, the first. It took slightly less time for the mate. OK, not really, but I perceive it as less time. A girl's gotta dream, eh?

So here they are, all ready for shipping on August 2nd. I even have a few little extras planned which I think my pal will approve of. What can I say? I'm a giver.

Mona Socks

Pattern: Mona, by Cookie A.
Yarn: Yarn All Over, Moss colorway, approximately 400 yards of superwash merino wool.
Modifications: Absolutely none. The pattern was perfect as is.

By the way, just in case you were wondering about the colorful bits sticking out from the top of the socks, I've gotten some fabulous new sock blockers, courtesy of Leggy Creations. They're cats and mice partying and they are so cute, in a style that is vaguely reminiscent of Guy Buffet's whimsical French waiter.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Proof Of Life

I realize my last few posts have clearly not be of knitted items. I even recall stating that, though I had begun Mona sock number two, it was unlikely that I would be posting a sock progress shot.

Mona Socks - v1.67
As you can see, I've had a change of heart - mostly because I feel the need to show that there is a bit of knitting life Chez Moi. I might be "The Little Engine That Could" since I'm met with creaky resistance in my right shoulder with each and every stitch, but I will certainly persevere.

Understand that I'm not complaining so much as frustrated by a lack of alacrity:
  • in finishing this simple, beautiful pattern for my Sockapalooza pal
  • in picking up where I left off weeks ago with the Forest Canopy Shawl
  • with being able to start a 2-color sock design I have in mind
  • with being able to finally make a Clapotis with the lovely Blue Heron beaded rayon I purchased some time ago.
Ah, well. At least I found a hair style I like. You read it here. The Heidi braids are coming off Thursday afternoon.

One more thing. I've noticed there seem to be a rash of companion animal money shots sprouting up on certain knitters blogs (links via Stumbling Over Chaos). Who knew that I unknowingly got ahead of that trend 2 weeks ago with Nikita's tummy? That's me. A trendsetter!

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Monday, May 21, 2007

On To The Next One

blue sock monkeySockapalooza 4 Update
In an effort to avoid the dastardly and contagious Second Sock Syndrome, I've already cast on for Mona sock number two immediately after grafting the toe and weaving in the ends of numero uno, shown here:

Mona Socks
I was initially concerned about the marriage of the (even subtly) variegated yarn with this pattern but I have to admit that my fears were unfounded. Melissa's yarn is a joy to work with: no knots, nice twist and soft on the hands.

Now that I've got the hang of the pattern, sock number two should (hopefully) be a snap!

(Did I hear someone say, "Jinx?")


Monday, May 07, 2007

Weather Report

Today, look for occasional knitting following a 4-day dry spell. Expect continued spotty work to eventually give way to mostly sunny skies and finished objects over the next 10 days.

Frequency of repeats this afternoon should reach a high of around 2 to 3 rounds per hour, slowing to zero by nightfall. Stray knitting remains a possibility overnight, barring sleep event.

Sockapalooza 4 "Mona" sock, first 24-row repeat complete; 1.5 additional repeats needed to finish the leg.

Forest Canopy Shoulder Shawl, about 50% complete (per pattern)

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Choice Cuts!

blue sock monkeyNo clever dialog or confusing choices; just a little frequency distribution of the reader-supplied data with a soupçon of personal bias.

The winners are "Moss" from Yarn All Over and Socks That Rock "Star Sapphire" from Blue Moon Fiber Arts.

"Moss" will become Mona and "Star Sapphire" will become Monkey Socks. Yes, a cheeky blue monkey.

Thanks for putting up with the dizzying array of choices and color groups. I'm installing poll software so that I'll not have to put you through that again.

Now, I better rest the shoulder if there's to be knitting any time soon. Later.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

And We're Off!

sockapalooza 4 buttonIt's mind-boggling! One-thousand-six participants in 26 countries signed up for this global sock knitting event. Through the magicks of the internets, we will connect in a very personal way with the feet of people we'll likely never meet. That is the beauty of Sockapalooza.

Now in its fourth year, Sockapalooza is the brainchild of Alison (The Blue Blog) Hansel. When you sign up, you give your particulars of foot measurement and fiber / color preferences, if any. Next, participants are matched up such that you knit socks for your sock pal and, in turn, someone knits socks for you. The catch is that you must not reveal your identity to your sock match until the finished goods are mailed out in August.

So yes, there's someone (who shall temporarily remain Anonymous) who is doing a bit of blog stalking. And, you guessed it, I'm stalking my recipient's blog as well for clues about their likes and dislikes. By the way, my dear sock knitter Anonymous, you have my permission to take my 'sky's the limit' attitude and run with it!

As for my recipient? Don't know what I'll do just yet because you know I have so few yarn choices and even fewer patterns to choose from. This means I better get crackin'!


Saturday, April 28, 2007

Flying Footlets!

What do you get when you mix a one skein of cashmere-soft yarn with the need for instant gratification? Flying Footlets!

Flying Wings footlet
(Flying Wings Footlet)
Why "flying?" Because the Flying Wings pattern is featured on the cuff and they virtually fly off your needles. It would have gone faster had I not stopped to pet the sock as it grew out of Cider Moon's Glacier yarn in the "June Carter" colorway. "Soft" seems inadequate to describe this yarn. Here are some of my favorite alternatives from Roget's New Millennium™ Thesaurus, First Edition:
comfy, cottony, cozy, creamy, cushiony, cushy, delicate, downy, ductile, feathery, fine, fleecy, fluffy, satiny, silken, silky, smooth, spongy, squashy, squishy, supple, velvety, yielding
Yes, Glacier is all that! Since I'd purchased only one skein, I decided to maximize its sock potential with these footlets.

First, I split the 110 gram hank into two equal portions using my handy iScale. I had already worked out a method for adapting the 6-stitch Flying Wings pattern repeat for knitting in the round. This was necessary because the Barbara Walker Treasury primarily chronicles flat knitting.

With two size 4 US Addis at the ready, I did a long-tail cast on of 60 - L (48 - M) stitches, distributing on the two circulars as follows: 27 /33 (21/27)

Place marker to indicate beginning of round, then begin the cuff detail:
Flying Wings cuff detail
Round 1: K(nit)
Round 2: P(url)
Round 3 - 4: K

Round 5: Skip first 2 stitches and knit 3rd stitch on left-hand needle. Next, knit 1st and 2nd stitches, then slip all 3 from left needle. Slip 4th stitch to dpn or cable needle, holding the stitch in front of your work; knit stitches 5 and 6, then knit stitch 4 from the dpn. Repeat to end of round.

Round 6: K5, *skip 1st stitch and k 2nd stitch on left-hand needle. Knit the skipped stitch and slip both off left needle; K4. * Repeat * to * until last stitch of round, then K1.

Repeat Rounds 3- 6 three times, then knit 2 additional rounds to set up for heel.

Redistribute stitches so that each needle holds half of the total number of cast on stitches. Begin your heel of choice. I used a standard slip stitch heel flap and gusset, knitting the rest of the footlet in stockinette and capping it with a (mostly) rounded toe decrease. Easy, peasy!

What of Forest Canopy?
I have not abandoned this fun and easy lace project. Nay, verily I say unto you that I'm about one-third of the way done with the shawl - that is, if I were planning to knit it to pattern. Since I have approximately 450 yards of Diaketo Diamusee Fine (color 116) to work with, I plan on enlarging the shawl from 52" x 23" to 70" x 35" or until I have just enough yarn to bind off or my shoulder gives out. Either one.

I would've done a progress shot, but as I was stretching out the lace blob, I pulled some of the stitches off the needle (grrr!). I opted for fixing, rather than photographing, the lace. I'm sure you understand.

Nikita and RockyLast, But Not Least
I give you the gratuitous sleeping kitties shot. Rocky opened his eyes long enough to give me that "get outta my face with that thing" look.

OK, boys. Over and out.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Wild Things!

Rocky and Nik spatWild thing...you make my heart sing.
You make everything. Groovy.
C'mon, c'mon, wild thing.

- The Troggs, 1966

You know this is really about the now finished and fabulous Wild Thing socks knit from Teyani's Sock Hop yarn. I just couldn't resist kicking off this post with a picture of the boys in an unusual tête-à-tête. Anyway, on to the long-awaited socks:

Wild Thing socksWild Thing socks

Start: 2/7/2007
Finish: 3/19/2007
Materials: 3+ ounces of Sock Hop yarn in the Wild Thing colorway
Needles: Addi size 2 US

Wild Thing socks close upThe pattern is just your basic top-down sock recipe for fingering weight yarn. Cast on 64 stitches, knit 1.5 inches of k3, p1 ribbing and stockinette leg. For these socks, I did a garter stitch heel and reverse stockinette toe – something that adds a bit of textural interest while still showcasing the beautiful yarn.

I know this bum wing makes the production line a lot slower now but I can explain the nearly 6-week gap from start to finish in two words: birthday gifts. OK. Maybe three or four. In any case, they're done and I love them. They'll join the others in the dresser drawer, destined to be among my favorite (and well-worn) pair of comfort socks.

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

A "Take Charge" Kind of Person

Good, bad or indifferent, part of me is competitive and there was no way a sock was going to beat me down. Exhibit one, my "no particular pattern" sock that recently proved so troublesome. It is now sock accompli:

finished wild thing sockWhen Terri urged me to show that sock who's boss, I said, "Yeah. Damn right!" I went right ahead with a heel flap and gusset and said sayonara to the short row. I did change things up a bit though by doing a cushy, rustic-looking garter stitch heel and reverse stockinette toe:

wild thing heel and toeAlthough this sock has a nearly 10-inch leg, there is still plenty of the Sock Hop (Wild Thing) left over from the original 2 ounce 200 yard skein of fingering weight yarn to get a great start on sock number two. Since I still knit in fits and starts, it may be a while before the pair is complete but it will happen.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Socks That Mock

Wild Thing Sock 1I was just about to pick up where I left off with these troublesome socks when I looked down and saw it: this sock was unmistakably smiling. Not a happy, welcoming smile so much as a curled-lip, mocking grin. OK, I'll leave the anthropomorphizing be, but I do see something amiss in the gaping pre-gusset maw.

Here's the backstory: I started this sock last week in Teyani's yummy Sock Hop yarn (Wild Thing) as an antidote to the gray, sub-zero weather. I'm not following any particular pattern. Just a 64 stitch cast on with K3, P1 ribbing into a stockinette leg. I was at the point of the heel where things came twice undone.

Since this is a "knit as you go" kind of thing, I decided to try my hand at a short row heel once again. I was successful back in October and I had plenty of books and online guidance to make it work once again, or so I thought. First try: wrapped short rows left gaping holes which I tried to ignore and couldn't. Second try: yarn-over short rows which looked equally bad and left me feeling completely incompetent.

Look, the purpose of knitting isn't to leave you feeling defeated (unless you're into that sort of thing). I just wanted to have a go at knitting a sock for colorful warmth and comfort. That's why I resorted to what I know best, and that is the heel flap and gusset construction. Not very exciting but at least I won't be saddled with holey, mocking footwear.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Green Chic

Green sock yarnI do love my greens - both the kind you eat and the kind you knit with. In the spirit of the Green Sock KAL, I decided to do a little more stash spelunking in search of said sock yarn greens. The results?

* A deep forest blue-tinged green from Fearless Fibers
* A melange of sprightly green moss from Yarn All Over
* Louet Gems Willow (Fern's brighter cousin)

Since I've got 2 skeins of the Yarn All Over, I'm really thinking of knitting up my first pair of knee socks. Any suggestions on a pattern suitable for stout calves? I know I'm in for some shaping madness, but beyond that, I'm open.

Ribby PulliNow the "Chic" part of today's entry comes direct from Bonne Marie's ChicKnits catalog. ChicKnits now offers hard copy versions of some of her most popular patterns. Now, the one I chose is a new take on an old fave: The Ribby Pulli.

Bonne Marie worked with Scout to develop some custom colorways for the model sweater. Beautiful, but too spendy for me as I'm fairly dedicated to shopping in my home-based yarn store. I found 5 skeins of Lorna's Laces worsted in the Ice House colorway and paired it with Web's house brand Valley Yarns Amherst for the swatch you see here.

I'm going to do the long-sleeve version, though the pattern includes short-sleeve and hoodie versions as well. Love the blues and greens of my new-found yarns. Even knitting up the swatch made me happy in the dead of winter!

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Verdant Tootsies!

Knotty Bits Green Sock KALThis is my kind of knit-along.

No sign-up sheet + No deadlines + No specific pattern = No pressure. It's the Green Sock Knit Along, oh-so-casually cobbled together by Cynic the Lamb over at Knotty Bits.

I was so inspired Thursday night that I did a little stash diving and came up with Socks That Rock Heavyweight in the 'Falcon's Eye' colorway. The pattern for my first Green Socks is an adaptation of Katherine Matthews 'Ribble Socks' from the book, "Socks, Socks, Socks."

Despite appearing to be nearly solid, this yarn actually knits up with a greater than expected amount of variegation in the green and cream. Though this turned out to be more of a striped effect, I still think the choice to do a small cable twist texture was the right one. What do you think?

Ribbles Green Sock
The next green socks from stashland will be crafted from a couple of skeins of 'Fern' Louet Gems, marinating in their original shipment package since early 2006.

By the way, remember the tweed jacket I was so taken with? I swatched my top picks and determined that the green Rowanspun resulted in the best fabric for this project. Although I'm flush with the stuff, I just couldn't get Classic Elite Skye Tweed in the 'Rosey Glow' colorway off of my mind, so I decided to go with it. Naturally, The Button Drawer had the perfect deep pink buttons with scribbly black accents.

I'll get going on this one in due time. Right now, I've a couple of socks crying out for mates, a funky new jacket design I'm trying to map out and some knitting software begging for a demo. All part of the plan to enable the muse in 2007.