Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Spring May Be Coming, But Don't Hold Your Breath

One thing about winter in New England, it really makes you feel justified- even smug- about being a knitter. This is what my street looked like when I got home yesterday:
snowstorm on my street

So perhaps that's why I took some time out from the socks to swatch the wool for the next sweater coming up. (The socks? Are lovely, but I'm really regretting the size of my feet- 96 stitches around in fingering weight wool is not as fast-moving a project as I have come to expect from socks.)

I can't exactly call the wool an impulse buy- not when I read a review of the yarn, heard in the comments to the blog post that the very same wool was on sale, searched online to find out if that was really true and where the nearest store was to my path home. I may never buy yarn without a plan-- but I'm capable of planning on my feet when the occasion calls for it.
swatch of gray wool

The pattern I'd had in mind for this is actually (I think) a Patons pattern- it was long since torn out of a book or magazine, and has been in my 'patterns' file for about fifteen years. It has a few cables and some light texturing, nothing too fussy. However when I looked at it at home, it calls for a DK weight, not a worsted. So I'm now futzing with math and trying to decide if I want to knit this in the smallest size in worsted (assuming the math works out that it will be roughly enough larger), or if I want to rewrite the pattern for worsted (taking out a few pattern blocks so the width comes out where I need it). Or if I should just roll my eyes, put the pattern away until I actually find some DK I like and use a different worsted pattern for this sweater.

One thing is for sure-- as long as I can look out my windows and see snow, I'm going to have warm woolly things on the brain.

Monday, February 25, 2008

So Many Books and Other Excellent Excuses

Only a little knitting happened over the weekend, but I have an excellent excuse:

As well as being interesting, Knitting Rules may well prove to be one of the more useful knitting books in my collection. In the context of shawls, it talks about simple methods to knit basic geometric shapes (circles, triangles, squares). Now, I don't usually knit shawls, certainly not for myself (I consider them an excellent way to drag a beautiful piece of hand-knitting through a plate of tomato sauce, or the moral equivalent), so I haven't had occasion to look at a lot of patterns. But I've been meaning to look this up for a while, as (like everyone else) I have a bunch of odds and ends of baby yarn that I've been thinking I should knit into squares and assemble into a scrappy baby blanket. (I find it's never a bad idea to have a baby blanket or two lying around in case of emergency gift needs.)

Eventually I would have spotted or derived some of these on my own. But now I won't have to! As for the rest of the book- a mix of useful and humorous suggestions, in Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's usual delightful style. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Happiness is a Warm Scone

And a pot of decent coffee. And a day off...okay, I shouldn't push it, given that it's already a four-day week on account of the Monday holiday!

But I did get moving early enough today to throw a batch of scones in the oven, made with the last of the candied fruit left from New Year's. (Note- my scones do not look like any other scones in the universe. And I'm not sure that candied fruit is mostly considered an appropriate additive, but it tasted fine. That's the important thing, right?)

The fan lace socks benefited from lots of sitting, listening and knitting at the convention over the weekend.
scone and socks

I'm making these a bit short, not because I'm lazy- all right, all right, not *only* because I'm lazy, but because I like them that length. Except for the two pairs of sport socks I own that are the right length, I cuff my socks nearly all the time. It looks dorky, but it stops them from slouching, or me constantly leaning over to pull them up.

When I finally got home (and after it had been thoroughly explained just how Terribly Boring it is when all the people are gone), I had help finishing the sock.

Either that, or she figured if she sat on me, at least she'd know where I was.

In other news, I encountered a pod of knitters at the convention, and by the time I finished talking with them I was nodding glassily and agreeing that Ravelry sounded like an awesome idea. As of this morning there are 3937 people ahead of me in line. At 800-1000 a day joining, I expect I'll finally get to see what all the fuss is about sometime next week.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Fun with Fan Lace

So, after concluding what I *should* do is knit more on the cardigan, I discovered that one of the cable panels is reversed, a couple of repetitions back. So that's been set aside until I have an hour when my brain is not fried to drop the panel- all sixteen stitches- back thirty or so rows and fix it.

In the meantime, I've been playing with the fan lace socks. (Did that sound like an excuse? Because it totally is an excuse. I really wanted to knit the socks.)

I'm not so sure the pattern shows up well in the variegated yarn, but I like them anyway. (Besides, small mistakes? Impossible to see.)

I've just reached the heel (the turning point, in fact).

I really do like the look of the short-row heel. I find it fussier than a heel flap, but it suits this sock better, I think.

The yarn is Trekking XXL colorway 186, and the heel photo is closest to the actual color, though it's a bit darker than it looks here.

Now I haven't blown off *everything* for the socks- I'm accumulating a nice pile of finished drapes (they'd make a boring photo though), and am hopeful of finishing up that project before the end of the month.

And tomorrow and Saturday I'm off to a science fiction convention, which should offer a fair bit of knitting time while listening to things.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Farewell to the Red Earls

As I expected, I needed to pull yarn from the first sock to finish the second and then rip back another inch and redo it in ribbing to get the socks the same length. They finished a tad shorter than I would have preferred, but I'd like to hold off on getting any more yarn until I have some feedback on the wearability. Initial reports say the first pair are in heavy rotation and holding up better than the commercial wool socks that were also new at Christmas.

I'm also eager to see if there are any differences in the various constructions after wearing- in three pairs of socks, I have done three toes (kitchenered, and two toe-up configurations with nylon reinforcement) and three heels (top down with flap and heel stitch, short row heel and toe up with a heel flap, also with a heel stitch).

However, I don't see any way to improve on the yarn utilization. I came pretty close to using it all- this was what was left:

So now the question is, what next? I'm seriously tempted by the thought of more socks. I have two pairs left in queue- the fan lace socks I've already started, and the ball of sock yarn I got at Webs. However, I think I need to make some headway on the cardigan. That one has a deadline, after all. So- sweater at home and fan lace socks for a small project to take with me when I might need to wait somewhere.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A Perfect World

In a perfect world, I would not have come down with an annoying head cold just before the weekend.

In a perfect world, said weekend would not have been entirely eaten by a work project (with a short break Sunday for visiting with family).

In a perfect world, I wouldn't have gotten two inches into the second Red Earl sock and discovered that (unlike the first sock) my left hand twists did not twist left, but instead were copycatting the right hand twists, which were pointed in the right direction. I hate it when that happens. (I fixed it. I have this unreasonable idea that the second sock should match the first one. Weird, I know.)

Despite the manifest imperfection of the universe, there was some progress made:
You'll note that I haven't bound off the first sock. That's so if (when) I run out of yarn, I can just pick up the tail end, knit (pulling yarn from the first sock) until they're both the same length. If that happens, I'll have to reknit a bit of ribbing, but it's a small price to pay for the satisfaction of using *all* the yarn.

And in other positive things, I was comforted in my affliction (this is the lapside view):

There was also a great deal of Mexican food (purely therapeutic, I assure you). And tomorrow the weather is expected to be crappy, with a side order of extra crappy. So I'm thinking that either a) it won't be that bad, and my plans to go to karate practice will be executed on schedule or b) it will be a good evening to blow off karate and spend knitting, reading and sewing drape.

In the absence of perfection, I'm trying to cultivate a glass-half-full attitude.