April 20, 2010

Precious Yarns

I'm intimidated by special yarns. Obviously I love nice yarn and I've been known to keep a particularly beautiful skein on my desk where I can gaze upon and and maybe pet it a little when no one is looking, but I'm a little afraid to actually knit with it. First I obsess over finding the perfect pattern, one that some all mighty knitty being on high has ordained as worthy of such a lovely yarn. Then, and sticking with the Biblical theme, I dither over whether I am worthy of such a nice yarn. I'm not really that good a knitter, I can't make anything really impressive, maybe I should just wait until I can do a better job, a job worthy of such beautiful yarn.

This mindset goes a long way to explain my burgeoning stash of Malabrigo sock yarn. So soft, and such beautiful colors, but who am I to cast on with such magnificent fibers. I realize, however, that not knitting with a yarn because it's too nice is akin to not wearing a handknit because you're afraid of messing it up, and every knitter knows there's nothing more annoying that pouring countless hours and energy into a project, only to have the recipient not actually use it. I knit those socks for you to wear, so shut up and wear the damn socks already. Yarn is spun to be knit, so shut up and cast on. Remember you can always buy more.

Retro Rib Socks
Retro Rib Socks by Evelyn Clark in Malabrigo Sock, colorway Tiziano Red

April 11, 2010

FO: Socktober Socks!

Socktober Socks!

These socks. Oh, these socks. I started them on October 1st as part of Socktoberfest and, well, I didn't really finish them on time. Partly it was the knitting void of 2009 (I finished one project from September 2009 to February 2010) and partly, this pattern just kicked my ass. There was nothing wrong with the pattern, the instructions are well written and Kirsten Kapur even provided charts. I just had some sort of mental block and could. not. memorize the pattern. Try as I might, I couldn't read my knitting on this project and for the first sock and a half, I was tied to a chart. Finally, halfway through the second sock, I spent a good half hour staring at the charts until I finally started to figure out how the sock was constructed, at which point, the remainder of the knitting went much quicker. A little too quick, actually. These were my sole knitting project for my weekend trip to the Nonsan Strawberry Festival this weekend and I finished them Saturday evening, leaving me with nothing to knit on the train back to Seoul. Can't win for losing with this project, I guess.

Socktober Socks!

The Specs
Rav Link: Socktober Socks!
Pattern: Mystery Sock '09 by Kirsten Kapur at Through the Loops
Yarn: Knit Picks Essential Kettle Dyed in Bordeaux (1½ skeins; 346 yards)
Needles: 2.5 mm (US 1½)
Size: medium
Notes: For all the grief these socks gave me, I decided I loved them the second I finished them. They were suppose to be a gift for my sister, but I've decided I'm keeping them for myself.

March 21, 2010

FO: Airplane Socks

Airplane Socks

According to Rav, I cast on for these socks on February 8th, but I only knit the cuff before the Ravelympics started and I was otherwise occupied. I didn't start to knit on these in earnest until February 27th. The first sock was largely knit on my plane to Korea (luckily the Seattle airport has Wifi and I was able to look up directions for turning a heel, or it would have been a disappointing flight) and the second sock gets the distinction of being the second sock I've knit in the Seoul immigration office.

The Specs
Rav Link: Airplane Socks
Pattern: basic sock recipe, loosely based on the sock tutorial at Silver's Place
Yarn: Lana Grossa Meilenweit 100g Uni/Solid in the romantic colorway 8501 (1 skein; 458 yards)
Needles: 2.5 mm (US 1½)
Size: CO 68 stitches, which was just a touch tight at the top and fit perfectly everywhere else
Notes: I'm pretty meh about the yarn. I like the colors in the skein, but wasn't nearly as big a fan of how it knit up. Also, I'm a yarn snob and after using primarily merino sock yarns, I was less than thrilled to be knitting with a regular wool/cotton blend. Still, the project accomplished its goal of being mindless knitting and now I'm ready for something a bit more complicated.

March 2, 2010

Socks on a Plane!

Airplane Socks
What you can accomplish during twenty hours on a plane (besides go crazy).

I spent some bastardized combination of Saturday/Sunday (fourteen hour time changes are confusing) on a plane. Turns out, I can knit a whole lot of sock during that time.

March 1, 2010

2010 Stash Down

I moved to South Korea this weekend, which was pretty much a non-event, since I've already spent one year here, was always planning on coming back for a second and was only home for a few months between contracts. I started packing with my yarn and spent an enjoyable afternoon going through my pretty pretty yarn and deciding which of my preciouses I couldn't bare to be parted from for a year. As I surveyed the results, I realized that when your hobby takes up a quarter of your luggage for a year long trip abroad, you might just have a stash problem.

Stashin' It
It is not physically possible for me to knit all that in a year.

Then I arrive in Korea and started to unpack in my shoebox of an apartment, and I realize that I don't know where I'm going to stash my stash. I currently have the Noro shoved into the shelves in the bedside table; the alpaca, Malabrigo and sock yarn are taking over the cupboard by the door that I think is suppose to be for shoes; and for lack of a better place, the cotton is stashed in the shelves above my sink in the kitchen. There are ten random skeins sitting on my couch because I haven't figure out where I'm going to be them (maybe I'll just turn the entire shelve over the sink into a yarn shelve?) and I still need to retrieve the huge bag of yarn I left with a friend when I went home in September.

My stash is out of control!

Over at the cold sheeping threads in the Stash Knit Down group on Ravelry, there's lots of talk about a yarn bank. If you knit a certain number of skeins, you allowed to buy more yarn. I think it's time for me to institute a yarn bank. For the next twelve months, I must knit five skeins of stash yarn for every one skein I buy. No exceptions, not even for sock yarn. I've added a yarn bank box to my sidebar to help me keep track of how much yarn I've used and to keep me honest. Maybe the next time I fly back to America, I'll have room for something besides yarn in my bags.

February 24, 2010

FO: Calorimetry

2010 Hat Half-Pipe Tuesday afternoon, right in the middle of the Ravelympics with one project left to knit, my mom asked if I would make her earwarmers. I about fell over from the shock. See, my family doesn't really do hand knits. For a long time, the only thing I could get a relative to accept was dishcloths. Everyone seemed to loooove hand knit dishcloths, which is what ushered in The Summer of the Dishclothes. It got a little bit better once I started knitting socks - everyone (except my sister, the girl who wore flip flops in the snow*) wears socks! - but it's still pretty exciting to have someone *ask* for a knitted object.

I immediately abandoned plans of casting on for my Bloody Stupid Hat and started searching for earwarmer patterns. Mom requested something with a bit of shaping at the ears, which ruled out most of the patterns I found, but we eventually settled on Calorimetry from Knitty. It was a super fast pattern; I cast on Tuesday night, barely touched it on Wednesday (also known as the day my visa application ate) and bound off on Thursday evening. The most difficult part was getting someone to stand outside and pose for FO pictures. Next time, I know to not hand over the knitted goods until I get my pictures. *g*

The one thing I didn't like about this project was the yarn. My one requirement for the project was that Mom choose yarn from my stash, and I've used this yarn - Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed - before without a problem, but I thought the stitch definition was terrible on the Calorimetry. It's all 2x2 ribbing, something I could do in my sleep, but the ribs all look uneven. It looks fine from a distance and will keep Mom's ears warm, but I don't know if I could make something for me out of it. I would notice the problem every time I looked at the object and it would drive me crazy.

The Specs
Rav Link: Mom's Calorimetry
Pattern: Calorimetry from Knitty's Winter 06 edition
Yarn: Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed in Boheme (1 skein; 147 yards)
Needles: 4.0 mm (US 6)
Size: about 5 inches across at the widest point
Notes: I thought there were too many "button holes" and when I make this pattern again, I'll probably add some short rows with wraps after the first few turns to close up the holes.

*I can't rag on her too much - I did the same thing multiple times this winter. They're just so easy to slide into!

February 17, 2010

FO: Blue Tweed Reading Mitts

2010 Mittens Moguls I've finished my first Ravelympics project! I competed in the 2008 Ravelympics with a single project and didn't even come close to finishing, so I'm thrilled that I've finished at least one project this time. I cast on for the Susie's Reading Mitts, my entry for the Mittens Moguls, during the opening strains of the Opening Ceremony and cast off while watching the Men's Snowboard Cross last night. I finished all the weaving in of ends and other finishing details in the early hours of February 16th, and bribed my little sister into acting as a hand model that morning.

I love, love, love the project! Like I said earlier, I had a few bad moments in the first glove, but the second glove went off without a hitch. I don't know if it's because I've spent so much time this week parked in front of the TV watching the Olympics or because I've knit primarily with fingering weight yarn, but this project flew off the needles. I am especially enamored with the clever turned under tops and bottoms. I think that little detail make the project.

Blue Tweed Reading Mitts

The Specs
Rav Link: Blue Tweed Reading Mitts
Pattern: Susie's Reading Mitts by Janelle Masters
Yarn: Queenland Collection Rustic Tweed in 913 (1 skein; 278 yards)
Needles: 3.5 mm (US 4)
Size: medium; I originally cast on for the large, since my hands are wide, but they were much to big. The mediums are a touch snug and ideally I would have gone up a couple of stitches, but I didn't know and wouldn't have wanted to rework the pattern anyways.
Helpful Hint: Leave a long enough tail to stitch in the turned under hem.

Blue Tweed Reading Mitts

February 15, 2010

Ravelympics: Day 1 & 2

Blue Tweed Reading Mitts Yarno Ver: Hello, Bob CastOn. Here we are in a snowy North Carolina to catch up on inkle's performance in the Ravelympics.

Bob CastOn: Lovely day, Yarno. Let's hope the weather lasts. When we last checked in on inkle, she told us a little about her plans for the Ravelympics. Based on her past achievements, I'd say she's set herself some ambitious goals.

Yarno Ver: Let's recap her performance so far. She cast on for the Susie's Reading Mitts during the Opening Ceremonies while it snowed outside. Appropriate for a Winter Ravelympics.

Bob CastOn: There was a bit of a bad moment early on when she was confused by the turning row and noticed that her mitt didn't look like the picture. Luckily, the problem was quickly resolved by READING THE REST OF THE PATTERN!

Yarno Ver: Bob, it's a common problem in knitters of her experience. They forget that, despite several years of knitting, there are still plenty of techniques that are new to them.

Bob CastOn: It was a humbling moment early into the competition, but luckily for inkle, it only cause a momentary delay. The same can not be said her next mistake.

Yarno Ver: You're right, SSK. The first time she tried on the mitt, about twenty rows in, heartbreak happened. The mitt was too big. Much too big.

Bob CastOn: Really, inkle has no one but herself to blame for this mistake. She has prepeared for these events by knitting a swatch to check her gauge. There is no excuse for not doing the necessary math to check and make sure she was knitting the correct size. At least she caught the mistake early on and was able to frog the project and cast on for a smaller size without loosing too much time.

Yarno Ver: You're right. These are two mistakes early into competition that could have easily been prevented. It doesn't set a good precedent.

Bob CastOn: You're right, Yarno, but inkle finished the night with a decent start and made up for lost time in the early part of Day 2. She powered through a substantial amount of stockinette in the early part of Saturday afternoon. And then, disaster struck.

Yarno Ver: At 3:00 EST, inkle transferred her project to waste yarn to check the fit and see if it was time to start the thumb gusset. During the process, the ball of yarn got hopelessly tangled around her project. She struggled to correct the problem, but in the end, there was only one solution. The yarn had to be cut and a valuable hour was lost while she untangled her yarn.

Bob CastOn: A tangle at this point in the game is every knitters nightmare. It's discouraging and disheartening. You can see inkle struggling to keep up her spirits and not "throw in her needles" for the day.

Yarno Ver: If you'll remember, this is inkle's second Ravelympics attempt. Summer 2008 ended in disappointment - the project was finished weeks after the closing ceremony. For a moment, I thought 2010 was shaping up end the same way, but inkle pulled it together at the last minute and was able to continue knitting.

Bob CastOn: You're right, Yarno and for a few minutes, it was 2008 all over again, but that was the last setback of the day. In a test of endurance, inkle knit through the night and finished her first mitt just before midnight on Day 2 of the 2010 Winter Ravelympics.

Yarno Ver: It really was heartwarming to see inkle come back from that disastrous tangle and finish the mitt right on schedule. Hopefully she can pull out a medal in the Mittens Moguls. I look forwards to watching the rest of her performance in the Ravelympics.

Bob CastOn: Me too, Yarno. Now back to you, MakeOne Lauer at our headquarters in Vancouver.

February 13, 2010

Ravelympics: Opening Ceremonies

Ankh Morpork Knitters Guild The Ravelympics start in just a few hours and I'm super excited! (If you remember back, I was suppose to have completed two pairs of socks by the start of the Ravelympics. This did not happen. I finished the first pair without a problem, but stalled on the second pair when I made a mistake in the cuff, so I put it down and started a brand new sock. Whoops.) I'm part of the Bad Ass Artificers, the Ankh Morpork Knitters Guild's team. (Bad Ass is the name of a town in Lancre. There was this donkey, and it stopped in the middle of the river, and it wouldn't go backwards or forwards. Bad Ass. See? Yes, I know that 'Disobedient Donkey' might have been more... acceptable, but this is the Discworld and on that improbable world riding through the cosmos on the back of four elephants atop the shell of a giant turtle, if an off color joke can be made, it will be. Lancre people get use to explaining this.) I've had a lot of fun getting to know some of my teammates over at the Discworld group at Ravelry. The trivia thread has been especially fun. Finally, a use for my encyclopedic knowledge of all things Pratchett. I'm competing in two events: the Hat Halfpipe and the Mittens Moguls.

Bloody Stupid Hat
For the Hat Halfpipe I will be knitting the Bloody Stupid Johnson Hat. This will be a bit of a Frankenhat. The BSJ Hat has been in my queue for years. I love all things Terry Pratchett, so obviously a hat inspired by one of his characters appeals to me. However, as much as I love the cables (left picture), I've never been a fan of the top of the hat. Then I happened upon Kirsten Kapur of Through the Loops' Empire Hat (right picture). The stocking cap is the perfect amount of whimsy to compliment BS Johnson's Quantum Mechanics assignment. I'm knitting it out of a white Ultra Alpaca Light.

Blue Tweed Reading Mitts
For the Mittens Moguls I'll be knitting Susie's Reading Mitts out of a beautiful blue tweed. If the Bloody Stupid Hat was all about love for the pattern, these are all about love for the yarn. I found the yarn - Queensland Collection Rustic Tweed - at Purl's Yarn Emporium in Asheville, NC a few weeks ago and couldn't put it down. I immediately started looking for a pattern that was plain enough for the tweed, but complex enough to be worthy of this beautiful yarn. I'm super excited about both projects and can't wait to cast on!

February 7, 2010

FO: Meias Socks


Six days until the Ravelympics start, and my personal sock challenge is off to a great start. I cast on for the second Meias sock on Monday evening and grafted the toe this afternoon. One sock in six days - a personal best! Of course, I have done little besides knit this past week, but it's still a success. One more sock to go, and I will have finished up my lingering 2009 WIPs.

MeiasThe Specs
Rav Link: Meias
Pattern: basic sock ribbed from the cuff to the toe (insert your own 'ribbed for her pleasure' joke)
Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Merino in Life’s a Beach (1 skein; 420 yards)
Needles: 2.5 mm (US 1½)
Size: medium; originally intended for me, I CO 68 sts, only to discover the socks were too small once I turned the heel. I gave them to my mom instead.
Notes: This is one of the older yarns in my stash. I believe it was actually a college graduation present from my best friend's parents and, well, college was a few years back. The colorway is Life's a Beach, but I don't see the beach in the greens and yellows, with just a few specks of blue. Instead, I saw the Brazilian flag, and so I named the socks accordingly. Google tells me that meias is the Portuguese word for socks. This was a nice, easy project. Plenty of mindless knitting, and while the seemingly endless 2x2 ribbing became tedious very quickly, the socks fit my mom perfectly.

February 3, 2010

February Sock Challenge!

I currently have five WIPs: two long term projects (afghan & stole), two pairs of socks (both half done) and a pair of mittens. The Winter Ravelympics start in ten days, so you'd think that I would be participating in the WIPs-Dancing, but you would be wrong. Instead I'm planning on casting on for two new projects, mostly because realistic goals and me are not two things that go together well.

Meias & Socktober Sock!

Both pairs of socks are presents (sister and Mom), and I would desperately like to finish them before I move back to South Korea at the end of the month, which means I have ten days to knit two socks. Considering that both these socks have been on the needles since October and November of last year, I originally though my plan was a pipe dream. Then I went and checked how long it takes me to knit a sock on average. The first results were pretty dismal; I knit two pairs of socks last year and they took three to four months to complete. Then I looked further back at the socks I knit in 2008, and if you discount the my very first pair of socks (they took a whole year), I knit my second and third pairs in about a month each.

Now, a month is much longer than ten days, but I'm a faster knitter than I was a year ago. Plus, I'm not working right now, and it's still to early to be packing. What else do I have to do besides knit my fingers to the bone? My goal, my pre-Ravelympic warm up, is to finish those two pair of socks by February 12. It will be hard. It will mean hours of knitting each day. It will mean funny grooves in my fingers from holding the needles and repeated jabs from too sharp tips. And in the end, if I make it, it will mean room in my luggage for two more skeins of yarn, and that will be worth it!

January 31, 2010

FO: Evergreen Scarf

Evergreen Scarf

My knitting productivity has been abysmal for the past, oh, six months. All of 2009 was a pretty slow year for knitting - I finished a measly six projects last year - but it's been even worse since I got home from Korea. I've only finished one project in the four months since I've been home, and that was half completed before I left. I shutter at the thought that 2010 might be worse, but I have to face the facts. It's almost February and I still haven't finished a single project. Until, that is, last night. Turns out, all I really need to motivate me to knit my fingers to the bone is the possibility of beautiful FO pictures.

A few weeks ago, while watching my sister squeal over a bouclé scarf I'd knit and given to her a few years back, I made the mistake of mentioning that I had one last skein of bouclé still in my stash. Leah immediately begged me to knit it for her and for reason unknown (possible brain damage), I agreed. I cast on last weekend, but my progress has been sporadic. Garter stitch in bulky yarn does knit up super quick, but it's also incredible dull.

Yesterday, I woke up to predictions of a huge winter storm to roll through that afternoon and I realized if I could only finish this scarf, I could take the finished object photos in the snow. I immediately thought of pictures of the scarf being used while we made snowmen and roasted marshmallows over the burn pile or of a still life of the scarf draped artistically on a mound of snow. Everything looks good the morning after a snow storm! I sat down yesterday afternoon and knit straight through the beginnings of the storm until I was finished.

Evergreen Scarf

The Specs
Rav Link: Evergreen Scarf
Pattern: CO 22 stitches and knit until you run out of yarn
Yarn: Bernat Soft Bouclé in 26947 (1 skein; 255 yards)
Needles: 6 mm (US 10)
Length: 80 inches including fringe; six inches of fringe on either side

Evergreen Scarf

Of course, when I showed off the finished scarf this morning, I recieved more complements on this incredible simple scarf that I have on any elaborate project I've ever made. "Oh, it's so lovely," my family raved. "I just love the texture and the color. It's beautiful!" I tried not to roll my eyes and reminded myself that this is why you don't knit nice things for non-knitters.