Tuesday, February 27, 2007

moved to the fair-isle

After languishing for many moons finished half-way through the color work on the front, we have:

It's amazing the sins a good wash can hide in colorwork.

Granted, the point of this project was to be a learning experience (and I did learn - I learned on *the last* row of color, that I need to hold the yarn wrapped around my middle finger on the bottom side, and the yarn wrapped around my ring finger on the top, despite how unintuitive this sounds). The technique on the color is nasty. Lumpy. Mess. However, the yarn (skye tweeD) is very sticky. Annoyingly so. Thank goodness it washes up decently or I'd have wasted a purchase. And it's not too ugly for it's intended purpose as a good, warm, work sweater. I did have to send the finished colorwork through the wash to be sure of that though.

and the back, just to prove how terrible I really did with this. Note the little ends in the middle? That's where I teased out a giant loop of extra yarn in the middle, then gave up and cut it and wove the ends in. This is also, cooincidentally, has better color than the others.

So why the fair isle? Well, the socks are finished. and Here

Is my progress on FP as of my last post on the matter. Not shabby. But wait a minute - where are the needles? Is this some strange needle-less entrelac? No...I got mixed up on when to do which triangles, and it's a rip-out. Except I could never reuse the yarn, so I just yanked out the needle in disgust, cut the yarn and cast on again.

But I've been less motivated. At least taking the mulligan off the needles allowed me to stretch it sufficiently to ascertain that it will, in fact, be wide enough. Unfortunately, it's not made any progress.

Oh, and I've been on a needle breaking spree.

Two of the #0 rosewoods snapped in normal sock-knitting usage. I know, I could probably return them since I bought them a week ago, but really, I was taking a gamble that something like that would be structurally sound, and I lost. I figure it comes with the territory and I'll cut my losses and learn my lesson. I'll sand down the points on the longer pieces and use them for less strenuous jobs like stitch holding and the like.
Then...I stepped on the circular I'm using for the fair isle. You can see the (failed) attempts at a hot-glue fix in there. Think I've gotta bite the bullet and replace 'em. Which is doubly ironic, since one of the reasons I decided to finish the fair-isle was that it was on the same size needles as the handpaintedyarn I'd been winding for the past ever. (the other was that then I would have two sweaters with approximately the same complication level and intended purpose otn simultateously, which doesn't do me any good).


I've been reading http://denofchaos.blogspot.com/ and it's been making me think of goals. (it's also both fun to read, mildly educational, and very good birth control, a winning combination if you ask me)

I have never been a 'goals' type person. This was a problem in school days, when you were required to list them: three things to do this quarter, three things to do this year... I made stuff up that I figured I was going to end up doing anyway, so then I wouldn't have to worry about it.

I don't mean to say I was irresponsible about work (though I was probably an underachiever, I slacked very creatively, constantly aiming on that results/work sweet spot as opposed to 'my best').

It's sort of like that 'process knitter' vs. 'product knitter' I think I'm definetly a process achiever. I got good grades because you're supposed to - not to hit some mystical number which would get me into a particular major at a particular college. I always figured to do as good as was reasonable (see 'sweet spot' above) and make do with wherever that got me.

Which is strange, because I never did anything *else* because I was supposed to. I gamed the rules so I could follow the letter but not the spirit. Still do, though at least now I'm aware that my rampant passive-agressive tendencies are not, in fact, a virtue. Yet somehow, long-term, barely tangible 'supposed tos' are cake for me.

I think I need to say also, that I've been very lucky. I'm, modesty aside, smart. Grades weren't terribly tough for me. My parents also managed to put enough aside for my college that everything was covered, plus, due to my relatively bargan-basement choice, I had money left over. I currently have no debt. Completely. I rent, so no mortgage, and was able to pay cash for my pretty-decent used car. For all you parents out there trying to do right by their kids and thinking it's not appreciated, it is. It wasn't until after I graduated, but now, it definetly is.

Now, I have my first ever goals in life. I want a house, or, more specifically, a large dog and a garden, which translates into owning a house. I want to, eventually, have children and stay home with them, because that's another one of those unappreciated things my parents did that really mattered to me.
I think that those are really, truly, my tangible, controlable wants in life.

Those are really vague goals for a 3rd-grader. I think my teachers were much happier with whatever I made up about reading a book over 100 pages than they would have been with that.

They're also, maybe 10 years within reach. The first one, maybe even within a year. I've only realized them in a 'concrete action & decisions' sense within the past year. I've started thinking about the 'after that' side of things.

So then what? Start maxing the 401ks, and saving for college, 'cause you're 'supposed to' and after a brief fling in goals-land, return to my natural state as a process achiever.

Yes, we'll spend a little, but we're living way below our means now, in order to achieve 'house-asap', Getting things like a dog, garden, vacation, t.v., laptop, bed (currently the 'sub-goals' list) don't look like major issues, particularly since we're not going to get them *all at once*.

Maybe it'll change. Maybe there will always be something else on the end of the list, and I'll look back at this and laugh laugh laugh. But I guess that's what I'm writing it for. Everything other than the house is on more of a 'plans' list (as in, 'I plan to do my homework' not a valid 3rd grade goal) than a goals one. The only other big thing I can think of is that I'd rather own horses when I got old than live on a golf course. But that's about as concrete as a 3rd grader saying her goal is to own a house.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

What I'm Reading Now

no, this has nothing to do with knitting. Maybe I should rename my blog...

Currently in the midst of the Daughter of the Empire series by, darn, I don't remember who. Read two of his other main series', and thought they were good. Nice, solid, 'I want my cliches and I want them now' sorts of books. Lots of heroes acting heroic y'know. And he writes a darn good tactical siege. But anyway. M proclaims this particular one is one of his favorites. So far, I'm not seeing it. I'm getting a lot of thematic elements I like and could possibly reuse elsewhere, but the rest is kinda 'meh' They're intrigue style books, lots of plotting. I don't think plotting is his particular strength. It's not *bad* but it's not really enough to hand the whole book on. The individual bits are ok, if a little simplistic, but they're very discrete, which takes away from things. Some tangleage could do some good here.

In completely different genres, I finished AspectJ in Action by Ramnivas - ah, someone. (not good on the names today). and man, that thing was thorough.
Normally I read a code book, and it tends to ramble off into directions that I don't really understand at times, and I'll read a paragraph multiple times to get the point. Or they're overly simplistic, with huge sections on 'this is a variable' or some drivel like that. Most often a combination thereof - lots of useless basic information coupled with a few dense paragraphs of 'huh?'.
This, no, this beats it into you. In a good way. Very thorough, repeats the important bits often enough to reinforce them, not often enough to make your eyes glaze. I did end up skipping sections, but it was mostly implementation details I knew I could look up if/when I actually, you know, implemented it. Big fan of, the 'cookbook style' practical applications, an approach I hadn't seen in other books, again, very useful and thorough at the same time.
Only complaint is the book spends a lot of space convincing the reader that the subject matter is worth considering. When, I'd assume, If you've bothered to acquire and read a book on it, you're already past that threshold.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Jane Eyre

Apparently there's a Jane Eyre miniseries coming out a la Pride & Prejudice? I've no idea when this might be airing, and it's quite likely we don't get the channel anyway, but it makes me think. Particularly, this entry made me think. I generally agree with her commentary, but not completely. In my eyes, Jane Eyre is largely a useless book, except for as a set up for Wuthering Heights. While I haven't read extensively in this era, it's my understanding from High School literature classes that Jane Eyre was the archetype of a genre I like to refer to as 'English Heroines Lost on the Moor' there are a couple others of that vein I've read, and even P&P shares some common ground. But I ramble. The gist of the genre is that all grouchy rich men exist solely to reform and marry poor English heroines and make them rich and happy beyond their dreams.
Heathcliff turns this all on its head. Wuthering Heights without the context of Jane Eyre is just sort of morbid and depressing. With it, it's delicious, because to the bitter end there will be some people who just expect him to be Rochester.

I've started my Forest-Pathing. I kinda dig the seed stitch. This may be because I cut the obscenely large border down to two stitches. I think the seed stitch looks very neat and textured in the triangles, but the whole big border was overwhelming. I'm also knitting the border along with the rest, since there was no way in heck I was going to go back and pick up a two stitch border back and forth along the entire edge. For now that seems like this will work fine. Is there something I'm not thinking of which will bite me in the butt later? I also made it narrower by about half. (I'm doing 2-3 squares across, as opposed to, if memory serves, 4-5) I'm a little concerned that this will be too narrow, and I should have done 3-4. I'll make a call at some point. There is also a plan to attach an as-yet-undetermined edging after I finish.

I really, really meant to take pictures of last night's progress, but when I actually got in the vicinity of the yarn, I couldn't bear to not just work on it. So, I'll try harder tonight.

Monday, February 12, 2007

This weekend.

So, what did we do this weekend? Many things, my knitting corner is emptying out.
The big pile of yarn is completed:
7 skeins handpaintedyarn merino bulky "noches de otoño".
This color is actually pretty true. I love the interplay of green and purple into grey in this. I keep thinking of new names for it like "wood smoke" or "black pearl". I tend to do that when I like a color. The small skeins are from knots, I consider this turnout mostly reasonable. I'm definetly going with the alternating skeins on this, since there are subtle differences between them all, but only two that really stand out - and I think I can arrange even them discreetly.

This: (is a terrible picture. There is no light at all today, plus the only place I could set things up was far away, but you get the drift, yes?)

which is destined to become a forest path shawl.

I am in love with this pattern. I feel a little bad making it in alpaca from somewhere other than the 'alpaca yarn co' that I ordered the pattern from, but I think I'm forgivable since they didn't have a dark green color, which is what I had in mind. Truly, I was thinking a green merino, but my choices of green laceweight were this or zephyr, and this seemed closer to my vision, despite zephyr's glowing reviews. It works well in the swatch. The place I ordered the yarn from did send a sample card, and I ease my concience with the knowledge that I will probably order yarn from them in the future.

I definetly going to make a few changes to the pattern. I don't like the big plain border, so I think I'm going to nix it and knit a to-be-determined border on afterwards. I also *think* I'm going to make it narrower (probably 3 block wide instead of 5?), and possibly shorter too, since I have more of a need to a scarf than a full-blown shawl. I had a vision on my way home of it very skinny around my neck as an 'accessory' piece only a single block wide rather than a 'wamth' piece, and that tempts me. Logically, I have enough yarn to make both, but that will never happen, so I will probably nix the narrow idea, or make it in some other yarn (silk?) later.


Wound up the next skein of sock yarn. The little one on the side is another knot orphan. This one annoye me more than the ones in the pile, since it is *so small* It is smaller than it appears in the picture, must be some sort of foreshortening going on.
I don't know if I like this colorway. It's from the same place as the FO socks, and again I think it could benefit from being more mixed-together, and shorter repeats. I'm considering zigzag socks for it, since the extra distance around would make the stripes narrower. I do feel obliged to use it up before buying more yarn. For now at least. That resolution may fade.

FO: 2nd Socks

Really, like, this is a current one I finished them yesterday.

yes, they're purl-side out. I decided I like the way it blurred the stripes together this way.
yarn: All The Pretty Fibers Pure Merino Wool "Aurora Borealis" 500 yds.
pattern: Sockulator V 8.75 long, 7.5 around. 2x2 ribbed cuff with increaces every 12 rows.
needle: combination 0 & 1 bamboo dpns. (all at the same time, not like one for the ribbing, I'm a few dpns short of a set apparently - it seemed to work)
gauge: 9.25 sts, 13 rows per 1"
thoughts: I'm not crazy about this yarn. The color is a little bright, and it changes significantly from one end of the skein to the other. It's also very thin, with many itty bitty plys, and the texture just isn't as great as the STR I used for socks #1. OTH, it was a) a gift. and b) it the picture, it looked absolutely fabulous, I so would have bought it myself, it just wasn't quite what I was expecting (btw, I was expecting more blurred colors and 'in-between-tones' rather than essentially three discrete colors in a striping pattern.
The fit is wrong. This is completely my fault, I just need to learn what size I like my socks.
But, all told, they're surprisingly servicable. The fit is manegable, and they're nicely warm. and I am so glad to be done with them.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Felted Tweed Sweater

yarn: rowan felted tweed (color: melody). I don't remember how many balls.
pattern: copy of something I already had. While I tried to copy faithfully except for making it circular, it didn't quite work out.
needles: bamboo circular, size 1 (I think)
This was my first sweater. My first 'real' knitting project of any note. It's has flaws, but considering, I'm pretty proud of it. When I was unsure about how many balls of yarn to buy, the lady at the yarn store expressed disdain that it would be possible to copy something from an existing garment. That's crazy. I thought it would be easier than following a pattern, and it mostly was.
It's also exceptionally warm. Looking at the content (mostly wool, with equal parts alpaca and rayon) and gauge of felted tweed, I assumed it would be relatively cool, if not summer wear. I guess the alpaca goes a long way.
That said, the problems:
The gauge is a little off. I'm not sure where this came in, whether I measured the original wrong, or preferred the felted tweed at a smaller gauge that is specified on the label, it's really a mystery. For the most part, this works fine, it fits snuggly, but the ribbing expands, and it's 'fitted' rather than tight.
It's itchy. Not intolerably so, but I prefer an undershirt with it.
It shows bra-straps.
You may notice the sweater is a midriff, and while I am at that brief stage in my life where I can debatably pull that off, this matches poorly with the 'incredibly warm' point mentioned above. It also matches poorly with the idea of showing this off in front of conservative relatives & whatnot. I attribute this (the shortness) to a combination of the gauge problems, and being impatient to finish the darn thing. I've considered knitting more ribbing, then kitchenering the whole thing together to make it longer, but I think the ribbing would be disproportionate, so I'd have to go all the way up to the lacey bits. Also, that's a darn lot of kitchenering. Also, the needle I would need for it is currently occupied.

A closeup view of the colorwork:

(this was the last picture - by the time I got to it the light was completely shot. This is the best I could do. The color in the first is much more accurate)

Lots of pictures

So we had a little down time today while there was still light, and I've taken pictures of most of my FOs.
Learned two things: 1)the delay button is your friend. While there was light, there was not much light, so most of this pictures are .3 second exposures. Way too long to hold steady manually. Plus, it means you don't have an arm sticking out holding the camera. 2)when taking pictures of self, take a larger image size, since you will be a smaller percentage of the total image than when manually lined up and zoomed. Therefore, most of the 'sweater on a person' images are quite small. By the time I realized this an could have retaken them, the light was gone. I probably won't have time to post all of them tonight, but the biggest work is done.

Thursday, February 8, 2007


After reading this today, I've been strangely inspired to work on lace. Well, perhaps not strangely, as I've been eyeing the forest path stole for long enough to have purchased the pattern, and did some swatching from the Barbara Walker treasuries I received for Christmas, but at least ill-advised, or ill-timed.
Because...For one, I do not like the laceweight yarn I currently have. (Not counting the alpaca which is promised to NotBeLace, I only have one skein) It is single ply, and I don't like the puffy-ness it gets. Very gauzy and unsubstantial in the actual thread, as opposed to distinct thread making a gauzy and unsubstantial object. Not to mention the color really isn't terribly good for lace either. Additionally, after hand-winding the unsuitable laceweight, I have resolved to NeverDoThatAgain. Which until I drop $100+ on a swift and ballwinder, limits my lace buying choices to a local store which will (hopefully) wind it for me. I have not been out to tell if this is a possibility, since all (2) of the local stores have hours which conveniently coincide with my work hours, and I haven't felt like making a special trip on the very cold weekend.

--the infamous laceweight--

--swatches of the infamous laceweight--

Even beyond that, All of my lace sized needles are stuck in things. I use size 0's or 1's for anything below a DK. I also tend to start lots of projects in this gauge and not finish them because they are tedious, so they still have needles in them. In fact, many of them have needles of larger sizes that I crammed in so that I could steal the correct size needles for something else. I do have concrete plans to buy more needles, but this requires planning and decisiveness that I haven't mustered yet (how many? what brand? what sizes & materials?). This is made more difficult by the fact that no store to date has managed to stock all the varieties of needles that I want.
So. No lace for me.
I will probably wind more yarn, or, depending, finish the darned socks.
winding yarn last night was not quite so smooth. Both hanks had knots in almost the dead center. For now I'm looking at this as a good thing, as I plan on alternating rows for even variegation, and smaller balls may help with that.

--M: "that's a lot of yarn" me: "it's a little under half"--

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

yarn cakes

Sorry this picture has wonky lighting. One of the things I less than like about my new camera is that you can't plug it in a take pictures, you have to take the battery out and charge it. So in the 90 seconds after I got home that it took for the battery to suck the strength from the wall to turn the camera on, the light was gone. I improvised.

Yesterday was unexpected. Snow right at the close of business, so traffic was terrible going home. I stopped at my parents' to pick up a spare blanket I had there, and realized I would get home just as fast if I waited a few hours for the roads to clear. Yay for someone else cooking dinner.
It did give me an opportunity to measure the jacket-template in question, and I now have a reasonable pattern drafted up. I still have to figure out how to make a couple of fit adjustments, but I'm pretty sure I'm going with the jacket. I also forgot that it isn't actually ribbed all the way up, and since I prefer how the variegation in this yarn looks in ribs, that will be some modifications too. But given my balling progress that's ok.
Though ye-gods this stuff goes fast compared to the lace and fingering-weight I'd be doing before. I know, I know, no kidding, but the actually experiencing the difference is impressive.
I really, truly do love this color more and more as I see it. When it first arrived, I was convinced that the main color was dark purply-grey, but winding it tonight I definitely saw green in it too. It's making me think about color theory and lean closer & closer to dyeing my own yarn. But not yet.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007


I'm going to start using the handpaintedyarn today.
I've been putting it off, as motivation to finish the socks, but I've decided I really don't want to finish the socks first anymore, and my only alternatives are colorwork which takes lots of thinking, and a lace top which has gone terribly awry from it's wonderful start and I just can't bear to look at now. This sudden conviction may also be influenced by the fact that it has gotten darn cold here (the 0's) and our office apparently doesn't have the heating capacity to quite keep up with that.
Of course, 'start' means winding yarn, not casting on. right now all I have is this:

Which is probably good, because I still haven't decided whether to make a turtleneck or a cardigan. Either way it will be based of of an existing garment/made up, and either way it will be 2x2 ribbed, but I have yet to decide which.
I will in all likelihood buy more of this yarn and make the other one in another color. Which has me leaning towards the jacket for this, since it's subtler, and would possibly go with more things.
I really do like the color of this. Like all my purchases from there to date, it was not quite what I was expecting, but this time it is in a very good way. Odd, since the best way I can describe the color is like the worst bruise you've ever seen - but in a good way.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

smurf feet

pattern: fuzzy feet, from knitty, rather modified.
yarn: Imperial Stock Ranch lopi style. Two skeins.
gauge: felted, disatrously. Who knows.

thoughts: I made several modifications to the pattern. One, was to change it to a toe-up version with a short row heel I saw somewhere. This, despite being perhaps an agressive change for my new-to-knitting ways worked fine. The second was to substitute the yarn. This too, was probably not a bad thing, and I believe the choice I made was apropriate. The problem comes in with gauge. Since I was making all these changes, I couldn't just blindly follow the recomended gauge. Having heard only a little about sock knitting or felting at the time, the one piece of information I remembered was that socks should be knit tightly for durability. So I knit them very tightly. Do you see where this might be a problem for felted slippers? Well, as you can see, they did felt some, but not completely, and it darned near killed me to get them to do that. I also didn't know that felting things made them shorter more than it made them narrower, and I didn't have regular washing machine access in order to swatch appropriately and find this out myself.
So, they're too big, particularly too wide, but for slippers they work fine, they're pretty sturdy, and I can wear my mohair footies inside of them for extra warmth.
I have mixed thoughts on the yarn, it wasn't itchy or rough, but it gave the impression of being dry, or powdery, it's a hard-to-describe sensation, not necesarily bad, but odd. One of the skeins was full of knots, and this was before I knew to send something like that back, but they're felted slippers, so who really cares?

Friday, February 2, 2007

Fuzzy socks

Yarn: ozeyarn kid mohair brushed, 100% mohair bulky weight.
Amount: ??? leftovers from one skein after making two scarves & a hat.
Gauge: 6sts, 9rows per inch
Pattern: madeup, basic toe-up sock recipe. Short row heels
Needles: #2 brittany birch dpns.

These turned out way better than they had any business whatsoever turning out. I was using leftovers from some x-mas scarves, I didn't really check gauge, or have any pattern theory other than keep knitting until they're big enough.
They are one of my favorite FOs
Never let anyone tell you that 100% brushed mohair socks are a bad idea.
They are soft (and not itchy like so many mohairs are for me), they are squishy, they do the best job of anything I've ever tried of keeping my feet actually warm. (this is an impossible task, really). I love the colors in the yarn and how it subtly stripes. They are kinda slippery on hard floors, and I imagine they will get gnarly with age, but that does not diminish my love for them. I wear them like slippers and while I'm sleeping.
They were a bit of a bear to knit up, due to both unfamiliarity with socks and just plain knitting brushed mohair at a tight gauge. They stained my needles.

By the way, I would recommend this yarn in this gauge for sweater knitting, it's nice and opaque, but not stiff. You could probably make a polar expedition it it though.