Saturday, August 21, 2010

Tour of socks, part three: Sharp Right Turn

Originally uploaded by Wordpurler
In my very last post before going on my extended period of radio silence, I wrote about visiting Knit Purl in Portland and buying this yarn.

It's since become a pair of Skew socks, from Knitty, Winter 2009. This is an extremely clever, albeit extremely fiddly, pattern that yields a funny-looking but good-fitting (for my average-size feet and calves) sock.

The pattern is complex, no doubt. The designer, Lana Holden, is some kind of mathematical genius person and I'm guessing she dreamed it up in some sort of Beautiful Mind trance; possibly Paul Bettany appeared with a little girl and dictated the whole thing to her. For us average knitter types, though, it's a bit daunting. (When printed out, the pattern is 6 pages long.) (Yes, you read that right.)

Each bit of this pattern requires an unfortunate amount of attention to detail as well as Kitchener skillz for the heel. (Yes. The heel.) (I know.) There's very little mindlessness to this pattern because just when you get in the swing of things it changes from increasing every second row to every fourth, or something equally fidgety.

I started the first sock, the left one pictured here, back in the spring sometime, and worked on it sporadically. I hit some sort of snag that I can't remember (maybe Ed Harris, wearing a black fedora, was stalking me?) and set the project baggie aside until July. Then, during our idyllic week on beautiful Camano Island, I got it back out, fixed my mistake, figured out where I was in the pattern, and finished it up, starting the right foot immediately and finishing that two weeks later.

The socks fit well and I love the yarn, though it's a bit, I don't know, ROPY-feeling against my feet. It's a tightly spun yarn (Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in colorway Tahoe) and it may soften over time, I guess.

The verdict: interesting intellectual exercise that yielded good-fitting socks with a lovely diagonal stripe, but not exactly the mindless purse knitting I hope for in socks.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Divesting; or, Requiem for a Chair

Picture it: Bellingham, winter 2003. A hugely pregnant me navigates the aisles of Toys R Us with my mom, in search of a gliding rocker for my nursery. We've already been to three furniture stores and the cost of their gliders has nearly made me go into premature labor. This one, simple, creamy, and (best of all) AFFORDABLE goes home with us. Over the next seven years I log hour upon hour in this chair: nursing, snuggling, reading, or simply perching, watching Mr D and then Miss E play. If only these things came with odometers; I've surely glided hundreds of miles, front-to-back, back-to-front.

Today it went home with another soon-to-be mama. One who didn't mind the rip in the cushion, and talked with her mom about what color fabric would look good for slipcovers. One who'll also have a winter baby. I told her it was a good chair for nursing, and that the back is tall enough that when you fall asleep with the baby in your arms you don't hurt your neck. As I spoke I could see in a flash the exact view--crib, changing table, CD player, door--I saw for so many hours when Mr. D was an infant.

This summer has been one of divestiture: co-sleeper, breast pump, jogging stroller, crib, bike trailer, hiking backpack--all craigslisted or passed on to other families. Bag upon bag of books, toys, and clothing has gone to Goodwill or to consignment stores. It feels wonderful to see empty space in the garage where once STUFF was.

It's melancholy, though, to realize that my kids don't need that stuff any more; that they can sit on the couch and tear through Calvin and Hobbes (as Mr. D's been doing all day) or ride with training wheels all the way to the neighborhood park (as Miss E did last week). The stuff of infancy and early childhood is rightfully moving on to new kids and families; I love being able to bless others with the objects that greased the wheels of our family machine for the last seven years.

And with each object moving on, there is more space for the next phase, the next project; big kid bikes, tools, art supplies, camping gear. I hope we remember, though, the peace of fewer things, of more space, of ROOM.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tour of socks, part two: Modified Milkmaid

Originally uploaded by Wordpurler
Strictly speaking, this should have been the first stop on our tour, because it was the first pair of socks I made last year, and the first of my semi-obsessive set of Upstream constructions. Oops. Please excuse me the non-chronological order of our tour.

One of the patterns in New Pathways for sock knitters is for the Milkmaid Socks. They are a darling pair of white and blue socks with a lace inset. (Most milkmaids would probably end up with cow pie on their socks, but these must be for some sort of Disney-fied clean and tidy milkmaid, or for one with highly effective rubber boots.)

I received this Lane Cervinia yarn in a swap package and it sat around in my stash for a year or so until, one day, it called out to me that it needed to be socks.

(This was after I tried to force it into becoming an Ishbel shawlette. Epic Fail. It wanted to be socks.)

I dug out the New Pathways book and, remembering how much this yarn hated to be lace, started a standard toe and a plain stockinette foot on size 2 needles. By the time I finished the gusset and heel I decided to spice things up a bit and stole a modified Feather-and-Fan cuff from the Milkmaid socks. (It uses p2tog rather than k2tog for the decreases, which yields a very interesting texture.)

And, where I'd ended up with neck and shoulder pain when I knitted socks on size 0s or 1s, size 2s seemed to work just dandy.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A tour of socks, part one: Marsh-a, Marsh-a, Marsh-a!

Originally uploaded by Wordpurler
In the spirit of rediscovering our friendship, I'd like to start small. To start with the small projects that I have been doing while taking breaks from (procrastinating on) my larger, more complicated projects.

I've been a sporadic sock-knitter since I made my first pair in 2007, but for some reason (coughCatBordhicough) I have really been churning them out lately.

It's not just because she's from the Pacific Northwest, or that she's a former teacher, that I think she's a genius. Cat Bordhi's brain really must work differently from other knitters'. I've been working my way (non-systematically) through the various "sockitectures" in her book New Pathways for Sock Knitters, and with her clear directions and clever twists, each pair of socks turns out just lovely.

This particular pair were made for my sister-in-law. She loves these colors, so when I got the yarn on sale from Knitpicks (Felici, in the color Marsh, now discontinued) I knew they would be for her.

I used a Whirlpool toe, then did 2x1 rib across the top of the foot, then the Upstream architecture for the gusset, which creates a triangle shape on top of the instep. Then I did a reinforced heel and a stockinette leg, then ended with a 2x1 rib cuff and Jeni's Surprisingly Stretchy Bindoff.

I don't know what it is about Upstream but it fits my foot and leg incredibly well. And, apparently, my sister-in-law's, because she loves these. She's not a knitter, so the idea of seamless socks ("There's no bump over my toe!" she exclaimed) was revolutionary.

As for the yarn--Felici is incredibly soft and silky. I used size 2 needles so I'm a bit worried about wear--the fabric wasn't incredibly dense--but it really was a joy to knit with.

Next up: more socks!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hello old friend

April 6? Can that be right? Surely Blogger has made a mistake.

(It hasn't. And don't call it Shirley.)

You know how you have that friend who lives far away and sometimes you go months without calling or e-mailing and the longer time you spend without calling you convince yourself more and more that it would be awkward, nay, an IMPOSITION to call, and then one day you put on your big girl panties and you dial that long-distance number and you hear her voice say "Hello?" and you say, "Hi, it's me," and she says, "Hello!" with joy in her voice and, "I'm sorry it's been so long, I've been MEANING to call you," and you say, "Me, too!" and then the conversation is off and running and you wonder what took you so long?

That's me with this blog.


Hello! I've been MEANING to call you. There's been knitting, and thinking, and writing, and ONE MILLION HOUSE PROJECTS and travel and birthdays and all kinds of wonderfulness.

I can't wait to fill you in.