Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sucked In, and Just Plain Sucking

Blogging will continue to be sparse until the holidays are over (as an aside, the last name of one of my coworkers is 'holliday' and after working with her for this long, I have been rendered completely incapable of spelling holiday correctly on the first try).  I am deep in the bowels of my own version of the YH's "It," and sadly mine does not involve much knitting. 
I am mostly blogging, therefore, to report that I have been sucked in by the French Press Slipper Mania (FPSM) and I delightedly knit my first pair last week over a couple of days.  I was really, really excited, until I realized I had to sew them together (UGH) and weave in the ends (UGH!!!) and then felt them (which I have never done before).  I put it off a bit, and then finally sewed the tops of one slipper together one evening.  I then put it down and waited until the next day to sew on the foot.  Having fortified myself with some rest and denial, I returned to the slippers and sewed on the foot, and after that I felt so sure that I had gotten the hang of this seaming thing, that I went to sew the two tops of the second slipper.
And discovered...they didn't match.  I mean, they did match, and that was the problem.  You knit two slipper tops as written, you see, and then you knit two slipper tops with the directions reversed, so that in the end you have two sets of slipper tops that, when placed facing each other, have all the shaping matched when the wrong sides are together.
Well.  Apparently, I was too busy steeling myself for the sewing to notice, but I sewed two identical sides together, so...one of them is upside down, and I now have two identical sides to make the second slipper with.  CURSES.
-- Sew the two sides together with one upside down, felt, and hope for the best.
-- Knit another top, sew the second slipper together correctly, felt, and hope for the best.  If the best does not happen, knit a third slipper and felt it to match the correct one.  Have no idea how hard this would be to accomplish, having never felted before.
--Burn this pair and knit a new one.
I am currently leaning toward option 2.  I have enough yarn to knit another full slipper if necessary, I think - although it will be a bit of a challenge to figure out how to get three strands of yarn to come from a single ball!  Last time, I pulled from both the inside and outside of one ball, and the inside of the second ball, in order to make the three strands.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Beads and Frills

Flamenco is done~~~~ yay!!

It took some very dedicated knitting and I really was tempted to stop before I got three inches on the ruffle, but I did all three inches and then some. It took me three evenings to bind the thing off. Oh, ruffles, why must I be so drawn to you when you are so very boring and tedius to knit (and bind off)? It is an unhealthy love.
I am somewhat at a loss for how to block this piece, though. There are instructions included for blocking the ruffle, but no blocking diagram or anything like that. I am contemplating whether my blocking wires will go all the way around it, or whether I should use string, or whether I should actually block it in wedges. I have to contemplate this further. I plan to wear this to my choir performance on Dec. 13 so I have a little bit of time to get it done.

I worked on that project with such dedication and exclusivity that I am kind of at a loss for what to do now that is done. I have run into some difficulties with my Christmas knitting, and have kind of put it on hold until I can figure out how to handle the difficulty. Unfortunatley this means that my Christmas knitting is not progressing, and time flows ever more swiftly. This season is really busy at work, plus I have all of the church activities, plus family traditions. I am really tight on time, especially because I have to fly to my parents' the Sunday before Christmas, so a huge portion of the stuff that has to be done, has to be done quickly. This is not at all conducive to knitting anything complicated or learning new techniques.

Speaking of which, I failed to start another pair of socks for me because they are toe up and I couldn't get past the cast-on. I think I need smaller needles or something, but I used the smallest ones I had. It uses a figure 8 cast-on and no matter what I did, it seemed like there were huge gaps between the stitches and the whole world would be able to see my pedicure, which can't help keep the socks from wearing out. I ripped them out and fumed for a bit. I haven't decided whether I am going to try again or...not. Maybe I should try a heavier fingering weight yarn or something. I do have a skein of Casbah left over from the Yellowstone shawl, but it's not in the colors I wanted for this sock.

I don't know. I like to think I am a pretty open-minded knitter but I am just not feeling the love for the toe-up sock. Maybe I will give the short-row toe another try even though that is not what the pattern suggests. I didn't really have a problem doing the short-row toe the last time I tried it, I just - don't hate me - thought it was kind of silly. I kept thinking, if I were knitting cuff down, I'd be starting the pattern by now. Instead I am going round and round on this silly toe. I kind of hated the yarn I was using too so that made me less tolerant.

A few months ago, I went to Catonsville, MD for a wedding, and while I was there I stopped in at Cloverhill Yarn Shop, which is always one of my favorite booths at MD Sheep and Wool. I picked up an ornament kit from Ornamental Knits, for the Beaded Lace Ornament. Every year the ladies in my church have an ornament exchange and every year I have brought a hand-made ornament - some, I admit, more successful than others. I do sometimes get a little nervous about handmade ornaments because my mother can't stand them, but - too bad!! It just adds a little extra fun for me for the ornament exchange. I did have some reservations because I just haven't seen that many knitted ornaments that looked really good, and the photography on the kits is not really stunning, so I felt like I was taking a chance. I put it off and put it off and finally picked it up last night, since the ornament exchange is, you know, today. I was able to finish it all in the single evening (thank goodness because I couldn't find the beaded ornament cover kits that were my backup plan) and it came out looking really darn good. However, I have sometimes been very proud of something that took me a lot of work to do, and then later said..."what was I thinking???" so I brought in to work today for test opinions. Both my coworkers gushed, so I feel reasonably confident that it will be well received. I am a little nervous, just because I didn't follow the finishing instructions, which were to wrap the 'yarn' around the top of the ornament five times and then glue it. Instead, I put the yarn through the last row of loops a second time and then kind of wove it in. It looked kind of pitiful while I was knitting it, but as all things, it improved when blocked (which is to say, it improved when the ornament was shoved in it, which had generally the same effect as blocking.