Thursday, September 20, 2007

It's not fair!!!

My Thursday Yarn Fondling Frolic has been foiled!

Didn't I tell you about the Fondling Frolic? Good grief, where've I been?

I sought and found a local yarn shop, Silver Creek Cabin, in Buffalo, Minnesota. As luck would have it, I have 1 1/2 hours to kill in Buffalo each week because The Follower has occupational and speech therapy at Buffalo Hospital each week. Weekly yarn fondling! What luck, huh? During the summer, therapy was on Mondays. Once I'd finally found this place (Buffalo is a little bit oddly laid out, let's just say), I practically ran to the door only to find that they are CLOSED on Mondays!

I kinda go into heart failure upon entering real live yarn shops, so for me to finally get to this store and be prepared to go in, only to find that it was closed, was a blow my poor ticker was not prepared for. So Mondays were spent moping around Wal-mart.

Now that school has started, therapy was moved to Thursday late afternoons. Chance paid me another kindness in the knowledge that the store, which usually closes at 5:oo, is open until 7:00 p.m. on Thursdays, sometimes later if they have classes! I wish I knew how to type the sound I made when I saw the sign. I fondled several skeins of sock yarn for 30 minutes - now that I've overcome my initial fear of socks, then SSS (you know what that is) - I've managed to make several socks and I want MORE. Because socks are infinitely practical, I think I could buy a ball of sock yarn without having an anxiety attack.

I was ready to do so tonight. Go buy sock yarn, then go buy chili powder, coffee, and pop.

Here's the not fair part. Follower's darling occupational therapist is sick today! Only 45 minutes to kill now. This would be fine if I knew exactly what I wanted...but I don't. It might even be fine if Buffalo was an easily navigable gridlike town with no road construction currently taking place...but it's not. The detour combined with the maze of roads - not to mention that if I don't come home bearing more caffeine I might be forced to hurt myself - is sadly going to delay my sock yarn fondling/buying another week.

My sock binge has produced 4 complete pairs of socks, with another waiting for its mate. I located enough only slightly crappy and still sock-worthy yarn in my stash to make at least a couple more pairs. I'll be ok. I just gotta take deep breaths.

If all else fails, I still have my 2nd Clapotis to keep me company (Patons Decor in Secret Garden - breathtaking colorway, at least to me, and not itchy, at least to me), plus the I-cord for the Pennant Pleated Malagaiter, the chenille cowl, the Cozy V-Neck Pullover from Fitted Knits, and the Breezy Cables Cardigan from Knits, Spring 2006.

Oh yeah. And the Ombre Acrylic Blanket from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. It was supposed to be a housewarming gift for my brother back in May. I'm now shooting for a birthday gift in November. It's taunting me.

Happy Thursday!

Friday, September 14, 2007

More socks!!!

They are the Coriolis Socks by Cat Bordhi and they are AWESOME! I need to take a picture that shows off the swirl a bit better, but they really are great. The yarn is Opal Rodeo in color 1150 (orange, purple, blue/gray, white). This is the very first (and yet only) real sock yarn I've ever purchased. Ok, now here's the story of the yarn and it's evolution into these socks.

For Mother's Day 2006, my mom gave me a $50 gift certificate to a cute little yarn shop called Amazing Threads in Maple Grove, Minnesota. Up until that point, I had never...ever...knit with wool. I'd never touched wool. I don't think I'd ever seen wool. My economizing nature meant that I was going to use this gift certificate as efficiently as possible, trying out as many yarns as I possibly could. I bought S.R. Kertzer Marble (for Aibhlinn - it was great, BTW), Lamb's Pride in Kiwi (for Vino Armwarmers), a couple balls of Ella Rae Classic (ahhhhh!), but I really wanted to buy a ball of sock yarn. I sat, crouched on my heels in front of the sock yarn bins for about 20 minutes before I made my decision - the Opal Rodeo in color 1150.

I'm not sure why I chose this color combination. There were several others that were very beautiful, but I think I picked these because I wanted something different. These definitely don't look like anything you would buy in a store, nor did it look like any other sock yarn in the store.

I started to knit this yarn into a feather and fan pattern in Sensational Knitting Socks (the chevron section for self-striping yarn). I think I was using size 0 or 1 dpns and knitting to a gauge of 9 sts to the inch. Eek! This was my first try at socks.

I brought them along with me to the hospital when my daugter had surgery on her ear. For 3 1/2 hours, I sat there knitting on the leg of this sock and I only got about 3 inches done. It languished in my knitting bag for months and months. I was awestruck that anyone had enough patience to knit a sock, let alone a PAIR of them! I'd heard of people actually addicted to sock knitting. I was convinced they were off their rocker. (So to speak, of course. Not all of us knitters knit it a rocker.)

Well, then I happened upon the Knitty Gritty episode with Cat Bordhi and watched them make the Coriolis Socks. Those look easy, I thought. Thus the frogging of the first attempt.

I had a real fear of running out of this yarn that was the most expensive ball of yarn I'd ever bought so these toe-up socks really appealed to me. I was still skeptical of being able to do a 7" leg. I could have used each end of the yarn ball to achieve the doubled yarn required but I didn't like thinking of the possibility of it getting twisted together. So I took out my little Martha Stewart food scale, put the ball in the basket with one end attached to my ball winder. I wound until half the yarn (or what I very unscientifically viewed on the non-digital scale to be half) was on the winder and half on the scale. Then I cut the yarn and wound the scale half into a ball. Thus I could draw from the center of each ball while I knit.

I brought these on the airplane to Orlando with the husband and kiddos back in May. I finished the first sock on the flight down and bound off with 4 strands, just like Cat says, because she said it would be stretchy enough. It was super fast, but I will add that I only made my leg about 2" long. the hotel I tried on the sock. I couldn't have pulled harder on that bound off was not going on my foot. I had this perfectly formed sock - the pattern couldn't have been easier or have gone more smoothly - and I couldn't get it past my toes! Here I was, at Disneyworld, and I was an ugly stepsister trying to squeeze into the proverbial glass slipper. I didn't knit at all the rest of the week long vacation. I didn't start the other sock either. On the way home I was sitting next to some grumpy woman who wasn't all that appreciative of my efforts, so I didn't knit much then either.

Back at home, I undid the bind off and tried using a larger needle with the 4 strands of yarn. A little better, but not nearly acceptable. The sock could have served as a tourniquet should I have needed an amputation.

I undid that bind off and tried something else I'd seen on Knitty Gritty. Annie Modesitt had demonstrated a bind off method of knitting 2 together then putting the resulting stitch back on the left needle, continuing thusly until all stitches were bound off. This was a desperate measure since I had no idea of this method was stretchy or firm, it was just another way to do it and I was grasping at straws.

The sock sat in that bound off state - still too tight - mocking me from a basket in my closet. I'm not really sure what snapped me out of my sock phobia, but I got going on it again a couple weeks ago. I finished Cookie A.'s Twinkle Toes Socks. These were also toe-up and when making these I learned the fabulously stretchy sewn bind off. Voila! Socks that go on my feet! And they don't cut off my circulation! Bonus!

I finally got the nerve 3 days ago to undo the bind off on my Coriolis sock and do the sewn bind off. I can scarcely put the moment into words. To have my sock bound off, finished, and on my foot looking perfect was almost more than I could bear. But it was still only one sock.

There was no time to lose. When I found the yarn in my closet, I found that I had already completed the square toe section. I printed new directions and got to work. I finished the sock that same day and wore them the next.

Thus is the story of my first pair of socks with actual real live sock yarn.

Monday, September 10, 2007

I made socks!!!

Finished, rather. Yes, I've been bitten by the sock bug, but had hitherto not enough patience to complete the second sock. Sadly, with me, the "second sock syndrome" hit me harder than the "sock bug".

However I have conquered my fear of committment and I finished not one, but two pairs of socks! The first was Cookie A.'s Twinkle Toes socks as seen on Knitty Gritty. To my dismay, I just learned that the Leader deleted my pictures of these socks! Curses! They are a little big, but they are cute. I made them out of Lion Brand Wool-Ease that was cream but I overdyed it with orange and pink Kool-Aid. I like the effect that the dye has when used on wool blends. I'm into the semi-solid thing right now. The yarn might not be the best choice for socks, but I had it on hand and wanted to use less expensive stuff for the first completed pair. To get my feet wet, so to speak.

The second pair, done in Bernat Sox, is pictured above. I did the Garter Rib sock in Charlene Schurch's book "Sensational Knitted Socks". Bernat Sox is not ideal, being 100% acrylic, but it was cheap ($1 per ball at Smiley's) and I thought it a great way to get used to sock weight yarn and a pattern using it. I knit the socks at 7 sts/inch on size 3 circular needles - perhaps a little loose now that I'm wearing the finished socks, but it's still delightful to be wearing my own creation.

I thought I would be clever and try to do them two at a time on two circulars. I'm very new to the technique of using two circulars and equally new to knitting socks, and given my affliction with "second sock syndrome", I had never knit two socks at once. So I got going on the legs, two at a time, on the two circulars.

Legs were knit without incidence, but then I got to the heel turn. I had to transfer a stitch from each needle to the other needle and couldn't figure out how to do both at the same time. So, one sock went on dpns and was set aside while I completely finished the first sock. To my surprise, I actually wanted to pick up the second sock right away and finish it. I finished them both yesterday evening and while I still have issues with Kitchener stitch, they turned out pretty darn good.

My next sock exploit is with Patons Decor in First Spring. I love the colorway (cream, tan, green, mauve) and I love the yarn so I'm excited. I started out with the Round Toe Cast-On in Sensational Knitted Socks intending to then move on to the Fan Lace pattern. The round toe deal went very well, but after two complete pattern sequences in the foot, I decided to rip back and do 2x2 rib. Because I'm still a sock rookie, I want these to go well without having to worry about losing my place in a pattern. Plus, I just like the feel of 2x2 rib and how resilient it is. And heck, I don't want a lacey - i.e. holey - sock what with the winters here in MN. My footsies get cold!

"A sock is but a sock...mere covering for a foot. But personal taste and personal craft, makes a perfect form of art, for the wearer thus clad."

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Knitting and Star Wars

Are the two related? Oh yes, and if you have know what I mean. My sons have long used my colorful 14 inch Boye's for ferocious struggles in a time long ago, in a galaxy far far away. But wait! There's a new link that I discovered today, one even more brilliantly connected to knitting.

So I'm new to the world of podcasting. I have an iPod Mini and I thought podcasts were video thingys that could only be played on newer iPods. Wrong-o, girlfriend! Ok, so now I know, and I stumbled upon Brenda Dayne's Cast-On Podcast. More like crashed into it because dang, that woman is popular! Because I'm a little obsessive about stuff like this, I couldn't bear to begin listening now, 54 episodes into her reign, so I started at the beginning.

I just listened to Episode 15, you know the first episode of her first break? The one hosted by Dave of Chub Creek? Sure you do, and if you don't, go listen to it already!

I listened in the car while the Younger and I were out to get him a backpack for preschool...preschool. Younger was laughing hysterically at Dave's commentary. We particularly loved the Ethel and Ed skit...and then the moment occurred....

[Now this is where I especially wish I had a podcast of my own...oh the musical effect I could render in this moment!]

Addi Turbo's! Whoooshhshhshhshsh! You know the sound...and again, if you don't, go listen to it already! Younger, a rabid Star Wars fan, laughs and laughs...then grows quiet and contemplative...then says "was that a light saber?"

Ah my knitting paduan, yes, a light saber the Addi Turbo sound is!

I've been lamenting the fact that the Leader, my only girl, broke down and told me yesterday very matter of factly (probably so I would lay off her) that "Mom, I don't like knitted things." Snif, snif!

I'm feeling more at peace now in the knowledge that I might be knitting Yoda to my youngest son's Luke Skywalker. What shall we knit first? A light saber cozy? Perhaps a Yoda hat? Han could have used some knitwear during his cryogenically frozen hibernation state. Oh the possibilities are endless.

May the force be with you!