Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Birks, with bling

Originally uploaded by Wordpurler
Oh, I'm getting so close!

I conquered the counterintuitive heel flap, seeded the gussets, and have reunited the socks on two circs, working my way down the feet. The pattern calls for switching to stockinette after the final cable repeat--I'm considering a tiny little Ravenclaw stripe right before I start the toe in blue...just a little touch...

Thanks to Celticmemory, at ravelry, for helping me figure out the heel flap issue.

And don't you love the stitch markers? The green and blue ones on the sock at left are from my HSKS 5 swap package (Lavender, did you make them?) and the neat blue & bronze one on the right is from CelticFrog's etsy shop. I think the beads on that set are vintage, so there might not be any others exactly like it...which is of course why I like them.

On down the feet!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Yarn lust

I have done very well this summer. I have bought hardly any yarn, except for some dishcloth cotton for my cousin's wedding presents, and my Hogwarts swap yarn for Lavender. I've worked diligently on projects extant, and actually finished a few that were hanging over my head. (A few that need to be blogged about! yes!)


I've been playing with podcasts lately. I don't have a lot of time to listen to them, so had avoided subscribing to too many--I am not commuting during the summer, obviously, and when I am in the car there are usually two competing voices, Mr D, age 5, wanting Harry Potter (we have listened to books 1-4 approximately eleventy million times) and Miss E, age 2, asking to listen to the "Wicked" soundtrack (what can I say? She likes the show tunes...what toddler doesn't?). So there's not a lot of support for knitting podcasts among the rest of the family, especially because they are basically incomprehensible and totally uninteresting to them. I get it. I don't let M listen to his fantasy football podcasts in the car, either.

I had subscribed to "Cast On" and the Knitpicks podcast and had been enjoying them whilst on walks, during my few-and-far-between solo excursions, and when cleaning the bathrooms. So I checked out a few more.

The first new podcast I subscribed to did not make the cut, because I listened to two episodes and both made me feel like I was the new girl at school with no one to sit with at lunch. There was a tone of insularity--I don't know how else to put it--and self-centeredness that I just could not get over. Plus, I don't think grown women should say "Squeee!" out loud. It's one thing to write it, but another to say it. I'm just saying. And hearing a person complain with one breath about financial issues and then mention buying $250 of sock yarn on her credit card--well, that just brought out the Norwegian in me. Unsubscribe, please.

(I won't mention the name of this particular 'cast because I know it has many fans. It just didn't float my boat.)

The second one, the WEBS podcast, is on probation. I really like Kathy Elkins's professional manner, and the knitalong idea is fun--to actually knit along with a pattern together would be cool. On the other hand, I'm not really enamored with poor Steve being dragged on to read what is basically a list of yarns. ("Um...some new Noro at 9.95 a 100 gram ball...") So I'm keeping this one on the list for now, and I'll see how it goes.

The last one, though, like Goldilocks's porridge, is JUST RIGHT: Stash and Burn. They had me at hello, metaphorically--when Jenny (I think it was Jenny) asked: "Have you read this pattern?" And it wasn't a pattern she was knitting at the was just one in a book or magazine that she had READ. For fun. Like I do.

So I blame Stash and Burn for my current fire in the belly to go and splurge on yarn. The last couple of episodes I listened to contained compelling and lust-inducing accounts of visits to various yarn stores on coasts both west and east...

And Miss E is asking for a pink cabled sweater (presumably to keep warm while backstage during her Broadway debut). (I asked her, not really expecting an answer, whether she would want stripes, lace, or cables on her sweater, and she answered, quite vehemently: "CABLES. Like Daddy." That's my girl!)

And I have finished two sweaters this summer. Don't I deserve a good spree? Or at least some pink Cascade 220 Superwash?

Friday, August 15, 2008

In a flap

Originally uploaded by Wordpurler
Yes! I have actually been knitLinkting!

I got out of the habit of posting pics during the Hogwarts swap, because I was working on the secret purse...but I have had a few projects in progress. I did, in fact, start the Aran Sandal Socks (ravelry link) from Socks Socks Socks on my trip to Spokane. They moved slowly for a while--the beach called, the wedding took up one day, and the rest of the time I was wrangling children doing the quasi-single-mom thing, since M had to return home to finish his classes. (Side note: How on earth do single parents manage? I had my mom and dad around plus a menagerie of assorted cousins, aunts, and uncles, and I was still exhausted after four days. Kudos to any single parent who doesn't just stick their kids in front of the TV all day.)

Another factor contributing to the slow start was that the socks are not mindless knitting at all, so I certainly couldn't pick them up during TV shows or even very much in the car once I got past the 2x2 ribbing. I don't get car sick very easily, but even my iron-clad vestibular system, which has handled reading in the car since I was able to hold a picture book in my lap, can't manage twisted rib or teeny cables for very long.

The yarn: Lavender Ackerly, my swap partner, had sent me this Swish DK in Ravenclaw colors. I haven't used superwash wool very often, just Cascade 220 superwash for my Stefanie Japel shrug, and I really like how soft the yarn is. Knitting the DK-weight on size 2s makes for a very firm fabric. I have three balls of the Cinnamon and two of the Dusk, so I'm doing the cuffs and heels in blue and the legs, heels, and feet in bronze.

As for the pattern? I think it is really lovely and the socks will be nice and warm this winter. I was a goofus and didn't check for errata before I started, so the first repeat of the larger cable was incorrect due to errors in the chart; oops. It isn't a super user-friendly pattern; there are two 4-row cable repeats and one 22-row cable; this means that after the first long repeat the cables are not synced up. I charted everything out for myself and used my magnetic chart keeper so kept confusion to a minimum. All three of the cables cross at different intervals, so there's never just a "knit the knits, purl the purls" round like in most cable patterns; there's something going on every row.

Last night I reached the money feature--the patterned heel flap. Here's where I hit my largest snag thus far--having some cables cross on odd rows and others on even rows is fine when one is working in the round, but it doesn't work very well when working back-and-forth. So either I misread the instructions, or there's something I'm missing. I decided to work an extra round in pattern before starting the flap, which means I only have to "back cross" one small 3-stitch cable every 4 rows, instead of a bunch or right and left twists every other row.

I checked Ravelry to see whether anyone had posted thoughts or strategies for the heel flap; I found one person's notes indicating she had solved the problem for herself (and there are 42 or so finished projects, so SOMEONE must have figured it out) and I messaged her. Isn't ravelry great?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Never say always

OK. I try not to channel Andy Rooney very often, because life's too short. But I'm grumpy about a couple of (knitting) things and I have to share.

  1. Why do people, when teaching or talking about knitting, say "always do..." or "never do..."? Knitting, as in life, carries very few alwayses or nevers. For every "always slip as if to knit" there's an equally justifiable "slip as if to purl."
    And, believe me, as a teacher of young people I GET that sometimes people need VERY SPECIFIC DIRECTIONS before they can spread their wings and fly. Maybe those people need the nevers and alwayses, but I find them condescending. Is it too much to ask to say "The best way I know is..." or "I prefer..." instead of "Always..."? At least the learner knows that there are other options.

  2. Why do people say they are afraid of certain types of knitting? "I'm afraid of socks." "I'm afraid of an afghan." "I'm afraid of lace." It's OK to dislike or not be interested in or think a certain type of knitting is for the birds...but afraid? Give me a break. Be afraid of alligators, or car accidents, or global warming...but knitting?

  3. Why does a certain magazine, we'll call it Mogue Spitting, not seem to tech edit its patterns? I actually picked up this magazine, which I usually find too fashion-y and impractical, this quarter because of the mitten patterns, and to my surprise I also discovered two (or more!) sweater patterns I might actually consider. But why, o why, when I turned to the instructions for one lovely sweater, one that was clearly constructed in the round and even SAID SO IN THE CAPTION IN THE GALLERY PAGES, did I clearly see directions for a FRONT and a BACK that were not in the round, not even one little bit roundy? It immediately made me suspicious of every other pattern in the entire issue as well as retroactively even more suspicious of any other pattern produced by said magazine in its long and illustrious lifespan.
OK, I'm done. This is Andy Rooney, signing out.