Monday, 20 June 2011

The Socks Progress Apace

Sunday Swing Socks - Kristel Nyberg
Fortissima Colori, Socka Colori - 100g/420m - 75% superwash wool, 25% polyamide

I don't know how long I'll have to write this as I'm expecting Miss Krissy and her family in the next span of time. The Socks got immeasurably less interminable once past the 1x1 rib and the first two repeats of the pattern flew by. I kept making Fiancé (in six days, Husband) try the cuff on and he kept insisting it was a good fit but I eventually convinced him that, no really, they were too big.

So I frogged them and started over, one size down (CO 72 stitches, no 80). He hates it when I frog things, it makes him very sad to think of the wasted time and effort, but he's getting used to it as ripping things back is at least a weekly occurrence around here. So I ripped it out and loosened my tension for the ribbing, which helped and knowing that after the ribbing things would get fun again helped, and I'm once again two repeats through the pattern and it's a significantly better fit.

I am really excited about this whole "knitting socks" thing. I can't wait to have a drawer full of cute socks in different styles, yarns, and colours.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Ginko Leaf Shawl for Miss Rachel

Ginko Shoulderette Shawl - Maggie Magali
Artesano 4 ply 100% superfine alpaca - 50g/187m - 100% alpaca

I am making shawls for each of my bridesmaids (though not as their thank you presents) and this is the one for Miss Rachel. The knitting itself was easy, though I ocassionally had to tink back half a row when I forgot the pattern mirrors from the centre, unlike the geometric shawls I've been knitting where you just repeat the same pattern again. Not a difficult concept, just one I seemed to have trouble keeping in my head.

I added one extra repeat of the pattern to make it a smidge larger and, of course, ran out of yarn one row before the bind off. Fortunately the shop where I bought it still had the same dye-lot in stock, but I had to set it aside for a few days while waiting for that, and then when I went to block it I realized that I would need at least 3 times as many t-pins as I own (I mentioned I'm new to this whole "blocking" thing, right?) as I can't use my wires to shape the leaves, so I had to wait another almost week for those to arrive.

It took an hour to pin it out and I still could have used another 25 pins to good effect but it's good enough to government work. Hopefully this will dry quickly as the first of my wedding guests are showing up tonight - 3 days before originally planned because they decided Paris is not the place for them - and I told Noah (who can't afford to take all the time off so he's telecommuting) that he could use my office. My itty-bitty, little office, one third of which is taken up by Wedding Stuff and now another third is this shawl.

It is a beautiful pattern and the yarn is soft a lovely but I think, for me, I'll stick to easier-to-block geometric patterns for the time being.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

FO: Summer Mystery Shawl

Summer Mystery Shawl 2011 - Wendy D.
Supreme Possum Merino 4ply - 50g/210m - 40% possum, 50% merino wool, 10% silk
60"x32" - 380m

I finished this shawl last night, washed it this morning, and it's blocking as I type. Forgive the particularly bad picture - my office is the only room I can keep the kittens out of where I can block the shawl and also the room where we're keeping all the wedding stuff - mostly in boxes stacked in corners. Then there's my desk and chair and did I mention it's the smallest room in the house?

I love this shawl. I was worried it would be too small, even though I added an extra repeat. I'd originally cast on two extra repeats (on each side of the center) but unblocked that had almost as large as this is blocked and I'd thought that too big, and then I worried it was too small, but I think this will be nice. I do think, in the future, that I will try to block shawls to be a little longer across the wingspan and a little less deep.

It's nice to have knit something I can actually use and show off. Between my wedding shawl and things I'm knitting for other people, I keep wanting to throw on something recently-knit and coming up short.

Monday, 13 June 2011

CO: Socks

Sunday Swing Socks - Kristel Nyberg
Fortissima Colori, Socka Colori - 100g/420m - 75% superwash wool, 25% polyamide

I have recently been jonesing to knit a pair of socks. I've been intimidated by them before, fearing I'd suffer from Second Sock Syndrome - obviously something I'm prone too with my knitting ADD - and a worry that I'd put all the time, effort, and money (yarn and needles) into making a pair of socks and then just walk through the toe and heel like I do with all my cotton, store-bought socks. I am a great one for walking through the heels of socks, so this isn't a small concern. But this last winter I knit several pairs of mitts, almost a pair of gloves (which sounds like Second Sock Syndrome but I figured out what I didn't like about them and have plans to finish), and a pair of baby booties, so there's evidence that I can concentrate long enough to knit a pattern twice. And, having mentioned my sock fears to friends, I've been assured that hand-knit socks, done right, are superior to store-bought socks in every way - more comfortable and less likely to wear-through.

As my successfully-completed pile of knitting has increased, I've found myself increasingly attracted to sock patterns. I have a thing for socks in general and my fiancé has a specific thing for socks (on me - he's never attacked an in-store display) but I live in a small, remote city without access to things like stores that specialize in hosiery and while I know that I can order things online, I have a great reluctance to do so. I'm great at the "add to cart" part but somehow stall out at the "pay" part of the transaction. Who gets buyers remorse before they actually purchase something? So I see these nifty sock patterns and I started thinking "I want those! I need them!" and when we were in Edinburgh over my birthday, I bought two skeins of sock yarn - a variegated blue for my Fiancé and a variegated purple for me.

My Fiancé is my guinnea pig (he doesn't mind) so the first pair is for him and he picked Sunday Swing from the "mello" section on Knitty. I'm 8 rows in to an inch of 1x1 rib (0.75") and so far my sock related thoughts are, "save me from 1x1 ribbing on 2.5mm needles!" The pattern calls for 2.25mm (US 1) needles, but half mm sizes are easier to get here in the UK. If I were the type to knit a gauge I'd say I've adjusted accordingly but, confession time, I don't. The nice thing about socks is that you can make your Fiancé try them on and adjust thusly.

Speaking of needles, I CO using the magic loop method but decided my longest cable isn't quite comfortable so I'm using two pairs of addi premiums, originally purchased to do a Turkish CO for the baby booties.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Knitting in Pubs

My Fiancé and I joined a friend in a local pub last night for mixers (me) and pints (the boys). We grabbed the table as soon as the couple who had been sitting there get up, before it was cleared, and while the wait staff eventually cleared most of the dishes (they never got the sugar bowl or a random glass), they never took the tip money that was left on the table. It was only £3, but we spent most of the evening joking about how hard it is to get wait staff to take your money. I ordered some chips and, after last call, a girl brought me the tab - or at least she almost did. She got as far as our table, saw the tip money (sitting on a saucer with the previous occupants' receipt) and took it and my tab away. Now, the pile of coins to cover my chips was also sitting on the table, but when we'd left it was still there. I guess the moral of the story is that, if you want a tip, you should pick it up off of the table.

I brought the baby sweater as I figured a small, easy project would be best. As it is, I kept missing the changes for the basket weave (when it changed vertically) and had to drop and pick up the stitches correctly on more than one occasion. I am increasingly less enamoured of the Baby Rico. I really liked it when I bought it, and for both pairs of leggins and the teal sweater, but by the end of the red sweater, well, I guess the honeymoon was over. I'll finish these skeins and subsequent new babies will get fewer items knit from more expensive fiber.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

On the Needles

I have two projects I'm working on atm, a red shawl for me and a yellow baby sweater for Baby O'Connor:

Summer Mystery Shawl 2011 - Wendy D.
Supreme Possum Merino 4ply - 50g/210m - 40% possum, 50% merino wool, 10% silk
This is my first Mystery Shawl - a pattern where you don't know what the finished object will be (other than, in this case, a "shawlette") and you get the instructions ("clues") over a span of weeks, rather than all at once. The idea is to finish each set of instructions before the next one is issued. I joined this one later, before the third clue had been released and then accidentally knit the second clue first so I had to frog everything and start over. When the third clue came out, I only had time to knit the 24-row repeat once before setting the project aside to work on shawls for my bridesmaids so the fourth and final clue came out and I was nowhere near ready. I've since done two more repeats of the third clue and, because I added an extra repeat to the shawl, probably only have two more. It's bottom up so with each row there are less stitches to knit and it's going, ahem, increasingly quickly.

Basket-Weave Baby Sweater - Frances Hughes - Creative Knitting Sept. 2004
Baby Classic DK - 50g/151m - 50% acrylic, 50% nylon
Back when I started working for Barnes and Nobles, when magazines didn't sell, the covers were "stripped" and returned to the publishers and the rest of the magazine was recycled or thrown away (depending on the facilities available to that particular store) or, and this is the relevant part, employees could take them home. During this time, I acquired a lot of issues of a variety of knitting magazines (which I eventually tore apart and sorted the patterns I liked into plastic sleeves and binders - yeah, I'm that person). When I moved to Inverness I pared this collection down to bare bones and, even though I wasn't at the time knitting any fitted garments, I kept this pattern for a baby sweater, hat, and booties. I don't think it'll be a favourite pattern, but it's a nice project for when I'm lying (sitting up) in bed and have caught up on my RSS feeds and Twitter.

I learned to knit at a Renaissance Faire and loaned yarn and needles from one friend and taught to knit by another. This second friend is allergic to the wool I was using and taught me without touching anything and as a consequence my technique wound up a little...unique. For a while I was twisting my stitches and when I realized that, I changed my technique to prevent twisting and somehow wound up getting everything backwards. This was fine for most things, but both my k2tog and ssk leaned the same way and I only just recently realized why (I was wrapping my yarn around the needle the wrong way) and decided to fix it. A few projects ago I corrected my purl stitches so my stockinette lace would be correct and on this project I'm practising wrapping the yarn under the needle on the knit stitches.

This sweater set will be for Baby O'Connor, who is due later this summer. His mother is having a really rough time of it and they're hoping to induce as soon as the foetus is viable, so if I have time, I hope to knit some premie-sized stuff as well.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Baby Baby Baby

I have reached that age when all of my friends seem to be spawning (whereas five years ago they were all getting married - I guess I'm a late bloomer) and I have finally decided to try my hand at knitting baby garments. Some four years ago I knit a beautiful baby blanket, which is still sitting in my closet, unblocked and the ends un-woven in, and that was when I realized I wasn't yet ready to knit gifts. Too many of my projects languish unfinished or are judged unsuitable. I did go on to knit a couple of "stroller blankets" for co-workers' spawn out of acrylics as I figured if I don't have to weave in the ends (and could rather melt them discretely) then I wouldn't give up at the end.

But I'm trying to expand my knitting repertoire, to face new challenges, and when you're posting things to friends it's more difficult to have the "this blanket is for supervised use only - don't leave it on your baby, asleep in the other room - as heaven forfend there should be a fire, rather than burning like plant fibres or self-extinguishing like animal fibres, it will melt and when you go to pull it off your baby it will take his or her skin with it" talk. So natural fibres and the need to weave in ends.

I started with baby leg-warmers as I figure two little tubes would be perfect - no heels to turn, no seams to sew up, just a little tube and two ends to weave in. Easy! I started with the simply titled "Baby Legwarmers" and then another pattern from the same lady, "Super Simple Baby Legwarmers" but by the time I finished them the far-away baby I had in mind had grown beyond them. Has anyone else noticed that the majority of babies they know are at least in the 90th percentile of growth for their age?

But more friends announced they were pregnant and I had all this yarn, so I figured I'd start a baby sweater. This would be my second-ever fitted garment and sewing up seams seemed about as appealing as weaving in ends and a lingering fear of blocking, so I picked a very simple, top down, seamless sweater, "Cuddly Wrap Baby Sweater". Not knowing the gender of the expected baby, I made it in teal and it knit up in no time at all so I decided to try my hand at another, a "Seamless Yoked Baby Sweater" again knit from the top down, with the sleeves held on stitch-holders to be knit after completing the body. I learned a technique for slipping the first stitch of a round to make stitch or colour changes knit in a round look less disjointed.

Inspired by my sweater efforts I decided to make a matching hat and wound up using the carried-over stitch pattern from the second sweater with another hat pattern and came up with the "Slipped Stitch Baby Hat". I added the left-over button from the matching sweater as an added detail.

As long as I was going for a set (though the red leggings lack the slip stitch), I knit up a pair of "Fleegles Seamless Saartje Booties" a seamless variation on a popular baby bootie.

I posted all but the teal (super simple) legwarmers to Baby Stephanie, born a week and a half ago.

Hello World!

I've recently started reading knitting blogs and I realized that I also want to write one. I'm on Ravelry and am trying to put usefull notes in my project details because when I'm looking to knit a pattern I enjoy reading other peoples' experiences, but while it's a useful record of the various patterns I've knit, it doesn't say much about me as a knitter.

I currently have a lot of free time. I'm a full-time student (until next week when the semester and the year end) but the exams are over and I only have a couple of projects left. I moved to Inverness, Scotland from San Francisco, California to be with my then-boyfriend, now-fiancé (and in two weeks and a few days, my husband!) so I don't have a lot of local friends placing demands on my time, either. When I came through immigration they were surprised at how much yarn I had stashed in my suitcase and wanted to know if I was planning to make things to sell. I come from a place where scarves and hats are purely decorative and I've never owned a pair of mittens, and now I'm going to spend winter 20 degrees further north than I've ever been, 0.5 degrees shy of the Arctic Circle. No, I explained, I'm planning on knitting my first cold-weather accessories for myself. Also, I'd previously checked out the Inverness yarn scene and while you'd think living in close proximity to all those sheep would mean lots of beautiful, local yarns, all I found was one little crafts and hobbies store with mostly big-brand synthetic yarn.  I am happy to report that the shop is under new management and they've significantly increased the amount and quality of yarns they stock and I am doing my humble best to keep them in business. Their needle supply is still on the paltry side (cheap brand, limited sizing) but I have no trouble ordering needles online whereas I really want to see and fondle yarn before I buy.

There are a bunch of things I've recently finished that I haven't wanted to post about in my previous journal as they are mostly gifts for people who follow it or wedding-related surprises. As no one yet reads this blog, I figure I'm pretty safe.