Thursday, January 31, 2008

Dyes and dye lots...the Good and the Bad

Aren't they pretty? Each color shown was dyed over Patons Classic Merino in Winter White on the left, and Natural Mix on the right. My second try at the green - this time remembering to add the acid! - was a great success. The colors were (from left to right and all Wilton Icing Dyes) Pink, Delphinium Blue, and Leaf Green. My favorite is the D. Blue over the Natural Mix. The yarn came out subtley variegated with purples and blues.

I don't know if that was just a happy coincidence or if it was because I stirred it without first wiping the pink off my spoon - but I don't think enough of the pink would've been still on the spoon to cause such variation. It's wonderful though and I hope I can replicate it when I do it on a larger - 6 skein - scale. This is the only one I've swatched so far. I think this would make a nice Oblique, but I might make a vest instead. Decisions, decisions.

Ms. Purplejeans, as she is known on Ravelry, is ready for her ribbed edging. I'm disappointed in myself for not trying to match dyelots. I knew that two of my skeins were of a different dye lot - heck, I could even see the difference - but I went ahead. It's pretty obvious. The photo above was taken without the flash and it's harder to tell, but with the flash, it is glaring.

I think I'll pack it up and take it to Michael's tomorrow and try to get another ball to match better. As it is, I don't think I have enough for the edging - at least not of the same dyelot. I'd like to be able to do it as a continuous piece and not have to join a new ball.

I've enjoyed making this sweater so far. The pattern is straightforward and easy to follow and it was super easy to do the cables without a cable needle. I don't think the dyelot issue will deter me from wearing it, but I have a backup plan should I find it too irritating to look at. I have enough of each dyelot leftover to run some overdye tests. If I have to, I'll see if I can't overdye them to be reasonably consistent. It's already so dark though that I don't want to do too much to it. We'll cross that bridge if/when we come to it.

As I ponder the fate of the 6 balls of yarn next to me, I've decided I need a niddy noddy. I'd love a swift, but at the moment, a niddy noddy is of a more pressing need. I usually wind my yarn into skeins over one end of my kitchen island, but that's starting to wear on my nerves. Plus, let's face it, I want to be one of the cool kids and niddy noddies are cool! I have some money floating around in Paypal after my recent sales and could definitely treat myself, however I just found some instructions for making a PVC niddy noddy. This could accomplish several things.

First, it's cheap. Second, it's immediate. Third, it's doggone resourceful....and fourth, the cold weather killed my van's battery yesterday and I need a good excuse to take a short drive to help build up the charge. B. has rounded the corner of his cold so perhaps after he's had his daily Wii fix, we'll go for a little drive.

In the meantime, I'd better quit daydreaming about yarn and get back to work!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Where am I?

That's how I feel today. I made a little bit of knitting progress yesterday. The first sleeve of Mr. Greenjeans is done and the second one started. The dye experiments were a roaring success. I'll have to add pictures another time because my computer is rebelling against 3 days of no sleep.

I'd hoped to have sleeve #2 done today, but sick children and temperatures approaching absolute zero have kept me mentally and physically away from my knitting.

What do you get when you cross an absent-minded-when-coming-home-from-work husband and a mom who didn't follow up on the contents of a certain 5 year old's backpack at the end of the week? A kid who missed out on his special day being Child of the Week at preschool...yay! On Monday morning when I brought B. into the classroom, the teachers asked if I had his pictures. What pictures? Nothing came home about Child of the Week so how would I know? Turned out that last Friday, when Mr. T was home early from work, he opened B's backpack, took out the contents, and put them in the laundry room - a place where I never place or think to look for schoolwork. The poor kid has been waiting to be child of the week ever since the start of school. It wasn't a total loss, he still gets to be line leader for the week - he just didn't have any photos to talk about yet.

We prepared all the Child of the Week stuff only to wake up on Wednesday (the next day of school for B) to -41 windchills and an air temp of -20. What gives? It was 43 on Monday! The elementary school was 2 hours late and preschool was flat out cancelled. Probably for the best, because B woke up with a raging cold and cough and wouldn't have been able to go to school anyway. Oh well, he'll get to bring his pictures tomorrow.

We were woken up at 2 a.m. Wednesday by L who complained that his ear hurt. Sheesh! What's next? B was coughing when I put L back to bed so I gave him some water. He continued to cough until he threw up. I gave up trying to sleep and started working.

I don't think much will happen in the knitting department today.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Choose Your Own Adventure

Today I come to you from my humble kitchen, where my Frankenstein-y dye experiments continue. But first, the weekend progress on Mr. Greenjeans.

I finished the body last night. It looks great, yet I'm hopefull that a good blocking will improve the fit. I went with the small size because a) I thought the model looked to be about my size and b) I'm trying to step away from making garments too large or too un-fitted. Also, there is a rather significant dye lot incident at work here, but I have only myself to blame. I knew there was a difference in the colors, but I went ahead anyway because I really wanted to use up the yarn in my stash rather than buy more. I hope it's not too glaring, but if it is, I may attempt a full sweater over-dye with some additional purple. The outcome is uncertain.

On to the dyeing. Remember, last week I bought Wilton Icing Dyes in Pink, Leaf Green, and Delphinium Blue. I thought it best to dye some samples prior to attempting to dye a complete sweater's worth of yarn. I decided to do 3 dye jobs using each of my 3 colors on two different yarns, to see how they look with no doctoring. First, I made 3 mini-skeins each of Patons Classic Merino Wool in Natural Mix and Winter White.

I soaked the skeins in some water with a dab of 2 in 1 shampoo/conditioner. While that soaked, I prepared my dye. I used two loaf pans and a plastic container. I filled them 1/2 full with tepid water. Then I dissolved 1/16 tsp. of each dye in 1 cup hot water, stirring to dissolve completely; then I poured that into the pan. Here's the green dye bath.

I added the rinsed yarn, one of each variety to each container. I let them soak for about 10 minutes, microwaved for 6 minutes at 2 minute intervals, then added a small glug of vinegar, making sure not to pour directly on my yarn. I lined up the pans on my stove and rotated them through the microwave at 2 minute intervals on high so each got a 4-5 minute rest between shots in the 'wave.

The pink exhausted the fastest. The Winter White sample is rather shockingly pink, though we must wait until it's dry to really see what it is. However the Natural Mix sample is a really nice darker rose tone that I think has some real possibilities!

The blue is looking stunning! The photos just don't do it justice. Both came out as shades of periwinkle blue with shots of purple running through them. The Natural Mix sample has a little more variation (naturally!), but both are amazing and exactly what I'd hoped for!

The green looked like it would be wonderful...but I wondered why the heck it wasn't taking up the dye. I nuked it within an inch of it's life, then decided to rinse. All my color ran down the drain and it was then I realized that indeed, I had forgotten to add the vinegar! Yes, vinegar really is needed for color-fastness, as I learned firsthand. That's what I was left with. I'm trying it again right now - with vinegar - and gee whiz, the color is soaking in! Fancy that!

I didn't actually keep track of how long it took me to get to the point of dye exhaustion. The pink was definitely the fastest. The blue took longer and never completely exhausted. The green...well you know about the green, but it's probably going to be much like the blue. Could be because those are stronger colors than the pink or perhaps I used a bit more than I needed. I think I was able to get a good representation of the colors though and now I can better judge what will be best for what project. The green is still stewing, but here's the pink and

Moral of the story...Kids, always use your vinegar!

Friday, January 25, 2008

I so wanted to be able to give you a glowing account of Mr. Greenjeans. I thought I might be nearing the end of the body cable-rib section. It looked really nice. But then I reread the pattern.

I forgot to switch to smaller needles! ARRRRGGGGGHHHHH!

I remain determined to do this the right way (remember the Cozy V-Neck saga?) so before I even took a picture of my progress, I pulled the needle out and ripped away. There it is, in all it's spaghetti-like glory.

I would consider myself a process knitter, though I'd be remiss if I said I wasn't anxiously awaiting this particular finished product. I understand the value of and really want another shorter sleeved cardigan. Plus I'm going to get together with my girlfriends on February 9 and thus have another occasion on which I might be able to wear a new garment. Frustration abounds, but I'll get through it.

STASH BUSTING ALERT!!!! I realised I have partial single skeins of 5 different colors of TLC Cotton Plus in my stash. This is quite fortuitous considering my goal of making gads of Mason-Dixon Washcloths to give to teachers at the end of the school year. There's a light lemon yellow, turquoise, lavender, red, and black - enough for at least two washcloths of each color. I made one out of the red yesterday (to help relieve the shock of ripping out so much of Greenjeans) and wow is it ever great! I really really love that yarn!

Photos don't do it justice, neither does the fact that it's not blocked, but it really is lovely. Cotton Plus is 51% cotton, 49% acrylic. It has cable construction, is very soft and has a sheen to it. It's labeled as worsted weight, but I think it might just pass for DK. I'll be swatching with this for some of the garments in Debbie Bliss's Family Knits.

I trekked down to Michael's this morning - I couldn't help myself! Patons Classic Merino was on sale for $4 a ball and I had a coupon! I'm such a sucker. First off, I walked past the $1 section and saw the cutest little bars of Mary Engelbreit-wrapped soap. Score! I grabbed 6. They'll be perfect for tying up inside the washcloths whence gifted.

The color selection of Patons Classic Merino disappointed me. I don't know why - I go there often enough that I know full well what their stock range of colors is. I wanted spring-y and it was not there. So I went with an option I've never considered before.

I'm gonna dye a sweater's worth of yarn! Shoot me now or cheer me on!

I bought 6 skeins of Natural Mix - my favorite - and 3 jars of Wilton icing dyes: Moss Green, Pink, and Delphinium Blue.

My gut tells me to go with the D. Blue with a dash of Pink in hopes of getting a mildly lilac-shaded blue. My gut also tells me I'd better test this out first. I went with the Natural Mix because I'm hoping that it's subtleties will remain through the dyeing process. Tonal variations are so much more interesting than one solid color. I have a gigantic canning pot that roughly resembles a 50 gallon drum - I'm sure that will hold 6 balls of yarn.

As for potential projects, I have a few in mind. The Strawberry Lace Wrap Cardigan from Knitting Classic Style by Veronik Avery is one; the Swoon Cable Cardigan from the April '08 Knit 'n Style is another. It's a little garish in the modeled photo, but would be very nice in something less busy and lighter. Oblique is another highly coveted cardigan and might just be perfect since it's lacy and I'll be using wool.

All right, enough stalling. I gotta get back to work.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

It's Wednesday already??

Good grief, yes, it is. Where does the time go? Right out the window when you have a weekend that includes a day out with friends, a basketball tournament, and a bonus day off from school.

Good news! I finished the One-Row Scarf with minutes to spare before leaving Saturday morning for my day out with my high school buds! I was pretty frantic, cursing Le Slouch and Slouchy Copy Cat Hat all the way, wishing I'd never started those before finishing the scarf. But I did it. I adore the color, it matches my mittens (duh, it's the same yarn!) and it looks very smart with my new coat. Too bad I didn't take a picture with the coat on.

I had a great time on Saturday with my 3 girlfriends. We pretty much spent our afternoon floating from location to location gabbing away until we ended up at a Hopkins High School hockey game. We had all been hockey cheerleaders so we thought it would be fun. It was great fun, but we were repeatedly faced with the sight of kids who were barely born when we graduated in '92. The price of getting older, I guess. We had a great time though. Oh, and I wore my Hourglass Sweater! Love it!

Sunday was an all-day basketball tournament for A. Mr. T and she left quite early and didn't return until 4 p.m. They won 2nd place...yay! During their absence I had time to contemplate how one of my friends said that each Thursday she cleans her entire house. I can't even remember the last time I cleaned the entire house in a day. Guilt descended upon me and I spent 4 hours cleaning my room and our bathroom. Then I made beds and vacuumed the rest of the upstairs and downstairs. Then I couldn't bear the thought of leaving laundry in plain sight so I got to work putting away the folded stuff and folding the other stuff. Not exactly the way I like to spend my weekend, but I figure it will get me off to a good start to hopefully turn over a new leaf in the housekeeping department. Since then I have made beds daily, done some laundry daily, folded it immediately, picked up around the house here and there, and in general, I feel great about it. I hope this feeling lasts!

Knitting is moving right along as well. I completed both Le Slouch and the Slouchy Copy Cat Hat. I am satisfied with the end result of both, with Le Slouch winning out. I really like that Moda Dea Wool n' Silk Blend. Gotta use that more.

I started a new cardigan, Mr. Greenjeans from Knitty. While I would have loved to make it using exactly the same yarn in the photo, I chose the Royal Purple Patons Classic Merino that has been sitting around my house for quite some time. Top-down yokes feel like an eternity to me, but I plugged away and got through it in 2 days and I'm nearly ready for the rib-cable section. I think this is such a cute sweater and I can't wait to have my very own!

However, A. hasn't failed to notice that the Lamb's Pride Bulky I bought a couple months ago for her Felted Clogs has not left the bag from the store. L.'s school has Slipper Day this Friday. I have not added any kind of tread to the bottoms of his clogs. I can't get myself to buy $15 leather soles so I may just break out the puffy paint. Or I'll look for some bits of fabric that could be sewn to the bottoms. Or I'll break down and buy the darn soles.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Spring Fever has to wait...

...because it's cold!

Josephine, I love you, you're beautiful...but you're only 1" long and it's a** cold outside. My hands need some mittens!

My summery knitting fling had to come to abrupt end yesterday when I panicked knowing I'd be out on Saturday without mittens unless I got cracking. The projected HIGH temperature on Saturday is a balmy -5. Gloves do nothing for me so I set aside Josephine in favor of finishing the Spiral Mittens.

They're cute and warm! Last night when I took the dog out, I could feel air coming through them, but my fingertips didn't turn numb within 30 seconds. I call that a success. Thinsulate, schminsulate! Gloves just don't keep my fingers warm.

This morning I had a crazy idea to start the Slouchy Copy Cat Hat with a skein of hand dye. I don't think I'll have enough yarn, especially since I'm making it a tad larger, but I'll improvise.

I went to JoAnn this morning after dropping B. at preschool. The one thing I needed was a larger Wilton squirty bottle in which to keep my homemade pancake syrup. But, I also had two valid coupons - one 50% off and one 40% off - so I bought two balls of Moda Dea Silk n' Wool in Pewter for Le Slouch (what is it with me wanting a slouchy hat??). I squished it in my hands all the way home.

Now I'm staring at the remaining skein of Lamb's Pride thinking I should try to hammer out another One-Row Scarf for Saturday. Am I nuts? We'll just see...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Great F.O.! Plus a warning....

Well, my work day was a bit more than I bargained for yesterday so I was unable to take any knitting breaks (just a couple peeks at Ravelry), but between last night's TV time and the kids' waking up this morning, I'm happy to say that I finished the Lutea Lace-Shoulder Shell!

This top went so darn fast I can hardly stand it. Plus, it's super cute! Plus plus, I'm out 2.5 skeins from my stash! I took the photos before blocking and it fits great! Now it's blocking and I'm certain it will continue to be wonderful. All the measurements worked out perfectly.

I made the 36" size after reading the designer's note that the top was meant to have 0-2" of ease (Thank you, Angela Hahn!). My bust is 36" so I went for it and I'm glad I did. Even though I'm not quite the size I wish I was, I'm retraining myself to not think I'm larger than I am. That's been my downfall - I make patterns too large and the end result just looks stupid. Choosing the right size has been as much a factor in my recent successes as the pattern itself. I may just have to make another one of these. I could really go for one in Violet.

Another picture, just because I'm so happy with it!

And now the warning. What to do when not-so-good yarns turn oh-so-bad.

Two words: Lupus Foundation.

Yes, that is where the Cozy V-Neck with Deep Ribbing is destined. Too many problems to count. First, I thought I'd be clever and use Sensations Angel Hair from my stash. Ok, kids, repeat after me: just because you can get gauge doesn't mean you should. I got gauge, but the fabric is too dense. Did I figure that out? Nooooooo! Heck, I got gauge!

Then I chose the wrong size. I made the 40" size (hey, dummy, the book is called FITTED Knits - not 4" of Ease Knits). I thought the armhole depth was too shallow so (after ripping back) I made the yoke for the next size larger, then decreased back to my size. Then, 7" into the 10" of ribbing, I realized I hadn't gone down a needle size. Determined to do it the "right" way, I ripped back again and redid the ribbing - which by the way is FAR more boring and torturous than miles of stockinette ever could be.

The ribbing is so thick and sturdy I think the sweater could stand on its own and it didn't relax at all with blocking. It constantly wants to ride upwards and then all the extra fabric in the body relaxes into one very attractive bubble around my middle (see photo above) and another one right above my bustline. See that? Yeah...yuck.

There is some good news though. My stash is lightened and though it was made into something I don't like, who's to say there isn't someone out there who would love that sweater? I'll tag it and bag it, and it will go out with the rest of my Lupus donation next week.

I also learned valuable lessons about gauge and size. Not only must you get the gauge, you must be happy with the gauge you get. Know your size and trust in your size. It's always better to make something that fits you NOW, not what you wish you were, or what you think you are in your own weird head, but what you really truly actually are. Everything looks better when it fits.

At that, I will leave you. On the needles now is Josephine, glowing in it's Apricot Shine Sport loveliness. I'm making the 36 1/2" size exactly as written in the mag. I figure Deborah Newton knows what she's doing and I shouldn't presume to mess with it. I swatched with some Patons Classic Merino last night. I have sweater quanities of it in Royal Purple and Dark Grey Mix. My first instincts lean towards Salt Peanuts and the Cabaret Raglan, but I'll probably change my mind.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Who loves a fast knit, baby?

I do, that's who! FYI, there will be no photos today, just gonna plow through an update.

The Lutea Lace-Shoulder Shell is moving along in grand style. 3 skeins of Cotton Ease will be more than enough. I don't find the stockinette body boring at all, what with the decreases and increases to keep my attention. The only thing tip I'd give about this one is that if you're using cotton or a cotton blend - and let's face it, why wouldn't you? it's a summer top! - measure the total body length with the piece hanging. Mr. T. begrudgingly held mine up for me as I measured. Measuring in this manner helps to compensate for cotton's heaviness and will ensure that the top is the correct length while you're wearing it.

The short rows wake you up again after all that stockinette (short rows are so magical!) and the shoulder lace pattern is very easy (as long as you've found the errata). I love the short row shaping to create the v-neck because now I won't have a pesky gap in the center where the stitches are pulled apart in a typical v-neck. There's also a slip stitch edging along the underarm. Yay for self-finishing! I fully expect to complete this top during short breaks in my work day today.

In other knitting news, the Hourglass Sweater is nearly dry and I'm itching to get it on. No pun intended there, but I do hope that it isn't too itchy. Sweater Soap seems to have softened it up nicely. It's going to be so comfy and so flattering! The shaping worked out perfectly and I can't wait to wear it when I see my high school girlfriends on Saturday. I realized last night though that the color I used - Sapphire Heather - is dangerously close to royal high school color! What can I say? That color looks darn good on me! At least it's not a cheerleading uniform!

Lastly, the bane of my knitting existance - the Cozy V-neck Pullover - is blocking. Do you remember that one? I made it out of JoAnn Sensations Angel Hair (ugh!) from my stash. Though I got gauge, in actuality, this yarn is too bulky for this sweater, especially in the ribbing. It's a pretty color and has the potential to be a cute sweater, but I think it's going to be too bulky and hot for me. Oh well, worse comes to worse I'll pack it away with the things destined for the Lupus Foundation.

Off to work now. Coffee first.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Summer Knitting in January

As I sat and knit on the Lutea Lace-Shoulder Shell this morning before everyone woke up, I wondered what I was thinking knitting something for summer in January? I just finished the Hourglass Sweater (it's blocking as I type) and I still have sweater quantities of wool waiting to be knit into things that I want equally as much as the summer stuff. Even still, the answer wasn't hard to find.

First, if I knit summer garments now, I'm more likely to have them finished by the time it's actually warm enough to wear them. It's hard to believe it will happen when I look out at the crystal blue sky and see that it's -6 F, but warm weather will come.

The second reason is that very soon, I need to start my Fluffy Lap Blanket Frenzy. Last fall, Smiley's had Red Heart Symphony for $1.00 a ball. I went nuts and bought the entire $40 minimum of several colors, plus some Red Heart Tweed as the contrast band color. I think I have enough yarn for 10 blankets total in 4 or 5 different colors. I'm giving out blankets and Mason-Dixon Washcloths with soap as end of the year teacher gifts but I haven't yet decided who gets what. I figure I'd better just get knitting and decide later. Remember the blankets and washcloths? Here they are. I think they are the best idea for teacher gifts ever!

The blankets in the photo were gifted to L.'s teachers last year, but the two washcloths are part of the gift stash for this year. All they need is blocking, but I'll wait until I have a few more. I found some forgotten TLC Cotton Plus in my cotton box and I think I'll try a few washcloths out of that. I really like that stuff - very pretty and easy to work with.

I must crack down on work today, but I'm hoping to get enough knitting time during my breaks to reach the 13.5" stopping point for the Lutea Lace Shell. Then I get to do the short rows and get ready for the lace.

Oh yeah, reason #3 for doing summer knitting in's super duper fast! Who couldn't use some instant gratification right about now?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Spring Fever!

Yep, I got it! Nevermind that it's -8 this morning, spring fever still made itself known yesterday morning after I cleaned my boys' room. Why did it happen then? Who knows, but for some reason it made me want to re-read the Summer 2007 IK. Yeah, I'm a little behind the curve.

I know there's people out there who get the new IK issues with yarn and needles in hand and start 1 or more projects immediately. I'm not one of them. I flag my favorites, drool, look up yarn possibilities online, drool, then sigh. I think I absolutely must finish everything currently on my needles before I can even THINK of starting something new.

Finish schminish! I want the Lutea Lace-Shoulder Shell and the Josephine Top THIS summer, by gravy!

Spring fever actually gave me the urge to SWATCH. My usual practice is to knit as little as I can in order to get a decent approximation of gauge, then say close enough. I've only kept 2 swatches to date, otherwise I rip it out and get started.

I want to make the Josephine top in Knit Picks Shine Sport. I have 6 balls of a tangerine-y orange color. I swatched with some periwinkle Shine Sport that had first tried to be Picovoli, then a swingy crochet tank thingy. It's so chopped up now that I don't think I could use it for a full project, but it's perfect for swatching. I got gauge on size 4's. Look, it's a real swatch!

I used the leftover bit of Cotton Ease from my 3 Mason-Dixon Washcloths and swatched for the Lutea Lace-Shoulder Shell. I got gauge with size 8's and cast on for the 36" size. I'm using the Berry Cotton Ease that tried to be two other tops before this. The fabric may be a little loose, but heck, it's a summertime tank. Let's hope I get lucky.

I recently subscribed to the Knit Science podcast by Miriam Quinn. I really like this one. Miriam is very personable and like my other favorites, it feels like I'm sitting with a friend. Plus she gives a ton of great information, and I LOVE that. Episode 11 - Gauge Your Swatch was a revelation for me. I'm not sure why it took this podcast to really hit me, but Miriam talks about treating your swatch as a project unto itself. This was my inspiration to actually swatch for these two tops. Hopefully I will continue on this new swatching path and have a lot less frustration with fit in my future.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A little update...

I'm getting ready to go to A.'s basketball tournament, but I have just enough time for a quick update. Yesterday I worked a lot (for the real job) so I didn't get as much knitting time as I'd like, but I still managed to make progress. The sock is continuing down the foot nicely.

And there's my blurry yet still magical gusset. What is it about that little triangle of fabric that gets my adrenaline flowing?

The Hourglass Sweater is moving along like gangbusters. I love bottom-up construction. Just when you're thinking that you can't bear to knit any more, you reach the yoke and it goes faster and faster. Using the 11" circular on the sleeves worked out surprisingly well.

I've completed 9 sets of decreases in the yoke - halfway there! Though I will probaby do a few more after reading what others have done on Ravelry (I luff Ravelry!!). I haven't heard nearly as many sweater growing pains stories from people using Wool of the Andes as there have been from those using other yarns. Let's hope that this turns out as stunning as I hope. I fully expect to finish it tomorrow. I'm almost through a ball of yarn, then I have 1 more full ball and about 1/2 of another. With the circumference getting smaller with every round, I am cautiously optimistic that I will have more than enough yarn, even with a few additional decrease rounds.

The it will be off to blocking, drying, and wearing proudly next Saturday so I can show off my talents to my friends!

I'm looking forward to A.'s basketball games at 11:30 and 3. I'd love to bring the sock, but with the two boys, the only time I'd touch a needle is if my hand brushed past it while digging for a snack in my purse. I'll be fine waiting until football this evening for my knitting time. I'll probably just keep blasting through the Hourglass Sweater. I want to finish the thing, plus, if I need more yarn, I'd like to know that as soon as humanly possible. Perhaps I'll work on the sock for a quarter of the football game as a diversion, but it will still be there, no matter what, so I won't worry about it.

Ok, enough of the chit chat - time to shower up and warm up my lungs to cheer for my girl's team! Mr. T. is coaching as well...that should be interesting!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

All About Socks!

I love working from home! When I'm stuck on the phone/computer for 2 hours, I can do something with my hands without getting funny looks!

That was yesterday. Webex training on a new database system. Park the kid in front of the Wii, put the cell phone on speaker, and watch the trainer do her stuff on my computer screen. Perfect mindless knitting time. I chose the second sleeve to my Hourglass Sweater. 37 rounds sure do fly when you're having big fun learning iMIS! Here's the sleeve by the end of the training:

After that, my poor little eyes needed a break from the computer screen. On to the sock.

That's how far I got yesterday. Precisely where I had been when I decided to rip it out the day before. This sock really moves! I think it's a combination of the easy pattern and the patterned yarn. With the pattern being only 2 rows of knit stitches - even though everyone's results are stunning - I still consider this a plain pattern. If I was knitting these in a solid color yarn, I'd be bored to tears and I suspect it would feel like it was taking forever.

That's why I love these patterned yarns! If I don't have an obvious pattern repeat to gauge my progress, I like to use the yarn as my progress meter. I'll say to myself, "I'll knit until the next blue stripe" and before I know it, I'm there. I do the same thing if there is a more complex pattern. That's why I liked the Twinkle Toes socks by Cookie A. and why I didn't get bored making them with a solid yarn. Go once through the chart, you've got another inch! It was great!

I've thought about toe up socks. I've knit toe up socks three times. Duh, Twinkle Toes! Also, I used Ann Budd's On Your Toes basic toe up sock pattern from IK Summer 07.

I have no issues with the pattern. I made these with Patons Decor in First Spring and I love the way they turned out. They look great and the pattern worked perfectly. However, I don't really care for the short row toe or the short row heel. Perhaps they needed to be a little longer for the heel to be comfier, but I like them to be snug. The last thing I need is another pair of socks that end up looking like a flour sack on my foot.

I made the Coriolis Socks by Cat Bordhi and those are nice. I liked the construction of these very much. It was like magic AND they have a heel flap! These were the first socks I ever completely finished and are to date my only finished pair made out of sock yarn. I adore these socks and wear them as fast as I can wash them.

You know what? I really enjoy making socks from top to toe. And I enjoy wearing socks that are constructed that way. I tried toe up socks in order to spare myself the torture that is Kitchener stitch, but even that doesn't scare me anymore now that Sandi Wiseheart has graciously shown us how to graft on the needles AND I have Ann Budd's great illustrations in Getting Started Knitting Socks. I love the feel of a heel flap sock and I can't describe the giddyness I feel as I form a gusset. There's just something about the whole heel area of a top down sock that I find thrilling to knit.

I can't tell you if my sock knitting will continue - I change my knitting moods so often, but I have a goal to make enough socks this year to have them for every day of the week. I'd like to complete this goal by October so I'm ready for the cold. They really are fun!