Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Forward and Back, Hot and Cold

When last we met, I hoped to have a new shawl to show this week! And I do! Except, I don't. The shawl is started but not photographed. The new shawl is the July installment of Romi's Pins & Lace club. Since I get the pattern and pin but not the yarn, I needed to go shopping, and since this past weekend was Fibre Space's birthday sale, the timing could only have been better if it landed on payday. Well, we can't have everything in life - I went anyway.

For the new Pins & Lace Shawl, I got this:

Photographed on my knees in the car with my phone, because I was that excited. This is Miss Babs Yet (65 wool 35 silk) in colorway Bog Berry. It's a slightly darker, more saturated color than what shows in the photo. I also got a skein of Neighborhood Fiber Co. Maisonette in colorway Hampden for the last Pins & Lace installment, which I didn't do when it came out because I was already buried in WIPs.

This pattern, Lisianthus, is now available to the public and people are jumping right into it on the Romi Rav group, which is making it a real temptation for me to cast this on right now! I'm determined to finish the new shawl first, though. I have observed that Romi tends to release something simple (Spanish Moss) followed by something complicated (Lisianthus), and the new shawl is no exception, being simple yet beautiful, easy to knit and yet - I've already messed up.

Last night I came home angry (first bad sign) and tired (second bad sign) and sat down to work on it (all signs indicate this was a bad idea). I finished the chart I was on and went to the next one, absolutely failing to notice that the repeat markers had moved and where I was previously simply knitting across the row, the YO's that had previously happened on the outer edges only needed to be distributed across the shawl according to the pattern directions. I was at least five rows into the chart before I figured this out, if not more. The discovery was not pretty. There was swearing, there was grumbling, I said things to myself that were not nice. Then I ripped. Except, I didn't really want to rip and have to get all those tight little stitches (that's me, supatight knitta) back on the needle, so I tinked. I tinked more than one row at a time. I've heard people talk about doing this but I've never attempted it before and needless to say, my first attempt was clumsy at best. It WORKED...sort of. But I'm not sure it was all that much faster than individually tinking. Regardless, I managed to undo everything I did last night, so that we can forget it ever happened and tonight I can start over. If only all problems in life were so easily solved!!

Here's another picture of the two yarns together that has better color.

And, lest I get a scolding from a certain someone who I know reads this blog, I also finished the first Serab sock. I plan to start the other weekend. Yes. For sure. It's vaguely astonishing to me how much faster patterned socks seem to go than plain socks. I can only guess it's because I get the sense of accomplishment that comes from finishing a chart, and also the sense of having a finite beginning and end. It's much easier to know exactly how many rows you have to knit than it is to have to knit to a certain measurement, where you're constantly stopping and measuring, and every time you measure you get a different result, and you have to fight yourself to keep from stopping too soon just so that you can move on to the next part. Or is that just me?

I actually enlisted CodeNinja to help me with the measuring of the foot of this sock. There is a chart pattern that goes down the foot, and then you simply repeat the last line of the pattern until the foot is long enough and you do the toe. See aforementioned issues with measuring. I didn't want my poor recipient to end up with a short sock because I was tired of knitting, so I made CodeNinja measure for me, figuring he was objective. Then I argued with him that he was doing it wrong and the sock had to be longer than that. "Look at it! It's huge! You can't be right, there is no way the sock needs to be this big." My smaller than average feet may have skewed my viewpoint on this matter further. If I had been knitting the sock for me, I would have done the toe immediately after the chart pattern finished. Anyway, we eventually agreed that the sock was long enough and I did the toe. I dearly hope it is not too long. When I measured the finished foot, it was a little longer than my book measurements said it should be. Still, a sock that is too long is much easier to fix than a sock that is too short. I vowed, as I do every time, to never ever knit a sock again if I can't force the recipient to sit by me when I get close to the end so that I can make them try it on a dozen times to be sure it fits. I expect this vow to be as effective this time as it has been in the past.

I have one other project on my list of 'soon to do' and that is to make a pair of thrummed mittens. Thrummed mittens in summer! That's crazy! Yes, it is, but so are my friends, who are going to be missionaries in Mongolia. Since I have always wanted to knit thrummed mittens (and because she is a dear friend and there is not much else I can do to help) I offered to make her some. Besides, she is the only person I know who will ever be anywhere cold enough to warrant thrummed mittens.

We looked at a bunch of different colors and kits and things and ultimately settled on black mittens with yellow or red thrums. I picked up some Cascade EcoWool at Fibre Space and pulled some wine red fiber from my spinning stash, and set the whole lot aside for a time when it's not too unbearable to knit mittens. I think I can do it once this heat wave passes, but I just couldn't handle it with the temps the way they were this weekend. And, you know. I had a shawl to knit. I'm thinking of also knitting her some Maia mitts or something to wear under the thrummed mittens, to keep her hands warm when she needs to take them off to do something. I can't imagine there is much you can accomplish while wearing mittens like that. If nothing else, she can wear them around the house or something. Maybe I'll knit a hat too. And a scarf. Lots of warm wooly love while she does the Lord's work. I should have bought another skein of ecowool. I wonder if I could do an Esplanade with worsted weight wool, or if that would be unbearably bulky? I'd have to improvise a bit on number of cast on stitches and the decreases...maybe I'll just stick to my old fallback, Kim's Hats. I suppose I could thrum a hat but that might be weird. Static nightmare with one's hair, I'd imagine. I should have bought more EcoWool.

I am quite taken by my Chiaogoo Red Lace needles, I have to say. And from the way they were flying off the shelves at Fibre Space, I'm not the only one. They are as sharp as the Knit Picks needles and much, much sturdier. The only thing I would change is that I wish the surface were slicker. It has sort of a velvety finish, and while it hasn't really impeded me, I'd be happier with something smooth. I've heard knitters say that they felt like the yarn was scraping along the needle and they couldn't stand the gut reaction they had to that sensation. I totally understand what they mean, but I'm glad I can put up with it. So far. I need to knit something in 100% silk to really test it out. Silk has a reputation for being a slippery fiber but I've actually found it quite difficult to move along the needle - perhaps because it IS so slippery, the stitches slide over one another and get all bunched up. Or maybe it is my supertight knitting style. No telling, really.

I tried using two Chiaogoos for the Serab sock, and I had mixed feelings about it. Knitting at such a tight gauge (especially because I was knitting with Bugga which is heavier than your average sock yarn), the lack of slickness is especially noticeable, and the braided steel cables are a little stiffer than the KP cables, so the needle that wasn't in use tended to stick out dangerously. I'm hoping they will soften up a little with use and dangle a bit more. In the meantime I've taken to sticking the ends of the needle not in use into the sock so I don't take somebody's eye out with them. On the plus side, the sticking out keeps the metal tips from clanking together, which always annoyed me.

Hoping to do lots of knitting this weekend, so I will have more than yarn to show you next week - although we do all like looking at yarn, don't we?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Block Party

I didn't get the blog post in last week, but I'm making for it this week! When I'm done with this post it will look like I've been really busy, when really - I've just been lazy, letting FO's pile up and blocking them all at once.

But, in keeping with tradition, WIP's first. I owe some birthday socks that I'm long overdue on, and I finally got them started this week:

These are Serab from Silk Road Socks in Sanguine Gryphon Bugga, colorway Arachne.


I have to say I really appreciate that the directions for this sock told you what to do when your double-increase was the first stitch in the round. I always get so frustrated when those little details are left out of the pattern. It's such a small thing, but it really saves me personally a lot of aggravation. I don't like to guess.

Knitting patterned socks always seems to go much faster than knitting plain socks. I love the sense of accomplishment I get when I finish a chart. It's much less satisfying to knit to a certain measurement, in my opinion. For this sock, you're given the chart and then told to repeat the last row a certain number of times, and if you want to make the sock longer you can simply keep repeating that last row until you're ready to do the heel. I just did the number of repeats indicated, since I've never done this pattern before and I've never used this yarn before, so I didn't want to push my luck too much on yardage. I think I would've been fine to make it a little longer, but I didn't want to take the risk.

One thing I don't really care for in terms of making patterned socks is doing the heel according to the instructions given. Now, I could've just tossed out the heel indicated and done my preferred heel, but I'll try anything once so I did the heel as directed. The flap seems a little long to me, but I checked it against my foot and I don't think it's a problem. It's a teeny bit baggy on me but I have smaller than average feet, so I think it will be fine for the person receiving it. Anyway, for a Saturday afternoon, I feel like that's pretty good progress.

I haven't started a new shawl because the next shawl in Romi's Pins & Lace club is due to show up in mailboxes starting this week, so I thought I would hold off and see what she's cooked up before I pick a new project. Crossing my fingers it's something I can use stash yarn for, but if not, a trip to the LYS may be in my future. I was down at Fibre Space a couple of weeks ago and their lace yarn selection is pretty delicious. I couldn't make up my mind what I wanted, though, so I ended up buying only sock yarn. I got three colors of Capital Luxury Sock from Neighborhood Fiber Company:

Sheridan Circle

Kalorama Circle

I'm thinking the two greens together might be pretty for Muse #1, but we'll see. I want to see what the dyer Romi used has available before I commit.

I'm still working on the endless scarf for CodeNinja. I think I have about six inches to go. It'll just take a few dedicated hours to get through. I'll rent a movie or something, I guess.

My charity knitting group is working on baby hats this summer so I've been working on one of those too. They gave us some patterns for DK weight yarn, but of course I'm a glutton for punishment so I'm working a fingering weight hat from some yarn I had in stash that I decided was probably never going to get used for actual socks. It's Ty-Dy - is that Crystal Palace, I think? Something like that.

Anyway, I've blathered on long enough - time for the FO parade!

Alcyone, the final of the seven sisters from 7 Small Shawls to Knit Year One: The Pleides, done in Ellen Cooper's Yarn Sonnets in colorway Aqua Tide.

Spanish Moss, Romi's Pins & Lace Club January installment, in Yarn Chef Spun Sugar in colorway Wild Sage. I did, in fact, finish this over the 4th of July weekend as I'd intended, but I didn't get it blocked until yesterday. This is the first time I've used this yarn and it was lovely, not quite as tightly twisted and round as Schaefer Andrea nor as loosely plied and flat as either BMFA Silk Thread II or Sundara Silk. I thought it gave a nice balance between the soft hand of the latter and the crisp stitch definition of the former. Would definitely use again! I had only a small ball left over from this, but I haven't weighed it. The colorway was named quite appropriately, and reminded me both of the grey-green color of Spanish Moss in the south and of the wild sage that grows in Yellowstone. The leaf sections are beaded but they don't show well, unfortunately - the beads are transparent white with a pearlized finish and they look exactly like dew drops. I'm so thrilled with them, and they were from stash. I also beaded the points on the edge - in fact, on one side I apear to have placed some extra beads, so I may go back with a pair of pliars and crack off the extra ones. Or I may just leave it. More bling never hurt.

Live Oak shawl, newly released from Romi in the latest issue of Knitscene, in MadTosh sock in "Tart" - I did an extra repeat of Chart A to make it slightly larger and still almost got this done in one skein. I ended up breaking open the second skein for the last row and a half plus the bind off. This was a super quick knit - I think I finished it in less than ten days, if memory serves, and it's beautiful. The lace is done in three sections and each leaf point must be pinned out in three places to get the lovely leafy edging, so blocking this one was a bit of a challenge for me. I'm happy with how it turned out.

By next week, I'll hopefully have a new shawl to show (and, if I'm very lucky, a finished pair of socks).