Friday, March 27, 2009

Sometimes, the Project Finds You

The other day, my mother brought me a bag of yarn, leftovers from a friend's afghan. Now, I'm constitutionally incapable of turning down free yarn. It’s just a matter of finding the right project for it. Not to mention that I find some of the most fun and creative ideas come about when I'm working around a constraint.

So I accepted with thanks and started thinking about what to make with it. A lot of odds and ends of gift yarn wind up in mittens, but this was enough heavier than regular worsted to require some annoying adjustments in most of my ‘standard’ patterns. So I looked at the yarn and thought about it. What it said to me (not surprisingly) was 'afghan'. Now, you may remember that a month or so ago, I tried knitting a baby blanket- and that turned out to be Not What I Wanted to Knit. So I was a little leery of trying another blanket-type project.

Instead, I swatched for a hat. And it just wasn't right. I didn't want to do a hat in the flat, and the dpns and circs I have aren't the right size (I really need to bite the bullet and spring for circs and dpns in size 7 and 8). Plus, it's heavy solid-colored stuff. I tried a couple of cables half-heartedly to liven it up, but no. This wasn't it.

So, how about heavy house socks? I make short knitted slippers, but my brother-in-law, he of the red socks, likes knitted slippers that cover his ankles. And he's probably due for a new pair this year. *And* sock-slipper things often work well in very dense fabric. So my size 6 dpns should be just about right. Shouldn't they? I got a few rounds in, but the yarn wasn't having any.

I gave up and swatched some bamboo I got on sale for a summer top, but I couldn’t stop looking at the worsted yarn.

It looked back. Afghan.

"I don't want to knit another blanket," I said.

Crocheted afghan.

"But I don't crochet."

The yarn looked at me.

"And I don't talk to yarn."

A long pause.

"Oh, all right.” I got out one of the crochet hooks that I inherited from my grandmother. Ungraciously, I chained a dozen stitches and then crocheted a swatch in the only stitch I know, single crochet. It was stiff, boardy and unappealing. “See? Doesn’t work.”

The yarn didn’t accept that. Try again.

“I don’t anthropomorphize yarn either,” I said firmly.

That was Sunday.

crocheted baby aftghan-in-progress

I hate it when yarn is smug.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Flying Finish

So, last weekend I spent recovering from the weekend before. Which my husband and I spent in Dallas, at the North Texas Irish Festival. The festival was lovely- great music, warm, sunny. We walked around saying, 'ooh, look, it's got leaves!' (We got back to reality fast, though- when we got home we had to shovel six inches of 'normal spring weather in New England' out of the driveway before we could park.) Any trip by plane means a lot of quality knitting time, and the weekend spent listening to music (and knitting) just added more. I packed extra sock yarn. Not that I was in any real danger of running out, but a knitter likes to be sure about that kind of thing.

It's funny what associations a piece of knitwear picks up along the way. Gift knitting I usually associate with the recipient. Last year, my socks simply reminded me of the festival. This year- possibly because I'm not quite so newly-minted a sock knitter- they actually remind me more of a book I was reading on the trip.
socks and book

The book is Dry Storeroom No. 1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum by Richard Fortey. It's a long rambling and immensely fond account of what happens behind the scenes of the British Museum of Natural History in London. It's a loving memoir, and rather like the museum it celebrates, it roams around to all sorts of odd corners of the natural world. Some of those are tropical and oceanic, and that's where the socks come in- they remind me of the water over a coral reef and the waves of the pattern strengthen the impression of water. (I didn't say this made a lot of sense, okay?)

Anyway- these are made from Deborah Norville Serenity Sock Weight, Wool/Bamboo/Nylon, colorway Indigo. The pattern is Welt Fantastic, from the trusty Sensational Knitted Socks. Many of the other projects on Ravelry for this pattern omitted the 'welt' rows- making it more than a little like the Chevron pattern from the same book. Like the Chevron socks, I found that these do not stretch much on the diameter- I wound up increasing enough stitches to add a whole pattern repeat for the legs, which worked well to accommodate my rather sturdy ankles and calves. Half of those went in before the heel (increasing the depth of the heel and providing additional ease at the arch) while the others were picked up after the heel.
socks on feet

I wasn't so sure about the welts myself at first, but these have rather grown on me. I wouldn't care to have tried them on anything heavier than a fingering weight yarn though- they're fairly prominent as it is.
close up of Welt Fantastic

Next up, more red socks for the Christmas basket, and a project to be named later....

Friday, March 6, 2009

Hat's All, Folks

So, nothing says "spring" in New Hampshire like fourteen inches of fluffy white snow. Which is why I'm pleased to have finished my hat:
colorwork hat

I've never liked the little bunched bit you get when you finish a hat (or mittens) by drawing the yarn through. I find that over time, it always loosens up and gives you a tiny little icy draft that seriously diminishes its appeal as outerwear. So I've taken to kitchenering the top, which gives a nice smooth finish with no holes.
kitchenered top of hat

The colorwork would have been smoother if I'd had all the same weight yarn- but I was just using a bunch of scraps I had lying around, so I have explored the entire gamut of 'worsted' weight. But still, I thought the colorwork was cheering, and a nice change from just stripes.
colorwork detail

It's been getting a lot of use. You'd think having lived all my life in New England, I'd be used to the cold, but I seem to be getting thinner-skinned as I get older.

I could stop here but actually the post title is a lie. And I can't think of a whole post I could write about yet more red socks- but, here they are.
more red socks

The first Christmas present of 2009 in the bag. Just a very simple plain foot with a ribbed leg, from the yarn left over from the baby sweater.

And for the new project on the needles, I couldn't resist casting on that new Deborah Norville yarn. I started off with the diamond rib pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks, but found again that I don't like vertical patterns with strongly striping yarn. So I've changed over to something else, which will have to wait for another post. Still, the yarn is pretty. Here's the start of the sock with the former Diamond rib pattern:
toe of sock