Saturday, February 27, 2010

The World's Slowest Socks

I've lately been referring to the Rose socks as the world's slowest socks. Which isn't strictly fair. The issue is, I'm used to thinking of socks as a 2-3 week project. These have been on the needles for two months. But looking over my crafting activity, it's not hard to see why these have dragged. I started them Christmas week while I was on vacation, but since then, I've finished one sweater, knit a quarter of another, worked on two others, knit 15 pairs of mittens/fingerless mitts and a pair of gloves. And then there's the fact that they're a bit longer than I usually make (I'm using up all the yarn again) and on 00 needles...and the upshot is that I have really been ready for these socks to be done for a couple of weeks now.

I do love them- the yarn is very pretty, I like the pattern, they're going to be super-comfortable to wear. It's just that there are so many sock yarns in the world, and while I like this one, there are all those other sock yarns over there looking greener in the stash bucket. But. Project knitter. Casting on another pair of socks and abandoning these unfinished would Just Be Wrong. (Not to mention the first step down the path that leads UFOs in every corner and closet.) So I have persevered. The socks have gone out to lunch, dinner and the grocery store. They've gone to the vet's office, and the veterinary ER. (Three times, but that's another story.) They go to work and they go in the car and they go to the local knitting group. And, as frequently happens when you doggedly knit one stitch after another, they have progressed. Slowly.

So this week after I'd done a few pattern repeats up the leg of the second sock, I thought, "Gee. Leg of the second sock. One of these decades these socks might actually be done. Wonder how many thousands of pattern repeats I have left to go?" So I stopped and counted. The first sock has thirteen repeats up the leg...the second? Had four. Nine repeats to go. Single digit number of pattern repeats! Hot diggity! You know what that means? The end is in sight.

So, with a fire freshly lit under my needles, I applied myself with renewed vigor to the cause. Tuesday, 9 repeats to go. Wednesday, 7 repeats left to go. Thursday, 2 repeats...Saturday:
Rose Arch socks
Rose Arch Socks, Deborah Norville Serenity

I'm thrilled. I love them. They're my new favoritest socks ever. I even forgive them for being slow.

But the next ones? Will not be on 00 needles.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


salt and pepper gloves
The Salt and Pepper Gloves, Valley Yarns Northamption

I'm very happy with these. The fabric is thick, yet flexible enough that the wearer can move their fingers. The gusset is two stitches from the axial line of the gloves, which seems to be just about right- when I added the gusset to the Icewine mittens, I put it a couple of stitches further over, which is wearable but not optimum.

And I even managed to arrange things such that when I picked up and knitted one finger to the next, it all came out in pattern without picking up extra stitches and fudging. Still- lots of fiddly knitting, lots of ends to weave. I doubt my lifelong love of mittens is going to change. But the recipient was pleased.

My husband's verdict? "Fits like a glove."

Monday, February 22, 2010


My brilliant plan to finish the salt and pepper gloves over the weekend was derailed by my misplacing my notes on how to divide for the fingers. In a pinch, I could have refigured it, using the finished glove as a check, but it was a little more work than I wanted to do if I didn't have to. They did turn up late yesterday evening, but alas, too late to get back on track. Drat! My comment about being my own worst enemy was not intended to be prophetic!

So. I have knit more sock. More glove. More sweater. *Must finish something Real Soon Now!

*Project knitter's mantra.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

We Have Met the Enemy

...and she is us. Remember that list of WIPs and plans? Yeah, not working on any of them. See, my husband happened to mention that his winter gloves were falling apart and that recalled to mind an experiment I've been wanting to try for a while.

Despite having knit hundreds of pairs of mittens over the years, I've never knit a pair of gloves. Partly because they're fiddly, and partly because I don't wear them myself. And partly because I've never found a pattern that I really like. See, I have these really fixed ideas about the way things ought to be. And to my mind, mittens and gloves intended to be worn in New England need to be thick and dense. I've seen a great many glove patterns that call for worsted weight at a gauge of 5 or 6 stitches to the inch, and that just doesn't seem heavy enough for me.

I much prefer bulky weight or doubled worsted for adult mittens, and I only use single thickness worsted for the kid's mittens because knitting a mitten so dense the child can't move their fingers in it is less than popular, no matter how warm it is.

And then gloves present a whole other layer of complexity. The whole point of gloves is to have more mobility in the fingers. And yet you want thick. When I saw the Salt and Pepper mitten pattern in Robin Hansen's Fox and Geese and Fences, I thought I had the answer. See, it's a one by one check pattern:
Salt and Pepper glove plan A

This was my first trial. The stranded construction makes it more flexible than bulky yarn, but still with a doubled thickness between the hand and the cold. And on #3 needles, it knits at a gauge of 8 stitches to the inch. It'll take a pretty stiff wind to chill through that! However, I simultaneously discovered a couple of issues with this particular implementation. First, I didn't have enough of the brown. And second, this particular glove wasn't going to fit. So, it was ripped and I swapped the colors (I have more of the beige). I got through the hand and still thought I was likely to run out, so I swapped it out for some red. I think I'll have enough to do the second glove to match. Here's take two:
Salt and Pepper Glove plan B

I did quite a bit of tweaking with the fit. Usefully, my husband and I have the same size hands, so I don't need to keep borrowing his for fitting. (He'll be delighted to wear the will save him shopping for new ones. But there's a limit to how many times one can ask a male person of the opposite sex to try on a glove in progress.)

Anyway, most mittens progress straight from the ribbing to though a stockinette section to the thumb gusset, but that's not strictly optimal for a highly fitted glove. I actually increased at the start of the stranded section to get that flare at the heel of the palm, and then did three sets of doubled increases before starting the thumb gusset to accomodate the broadening of that part of the hand. As you can see, I've reached the fingers, and they're every bit as annoying as I suspected they would be. But, the fit is good, and hopefully my satisfaction with the design will carry me though the second glove. For a change, I'm actually writing down what I did on the first one so I have some chance of replicating it. In a left-handed version, of course. Now watch me wind up with two right gloves....

Friday, February 12, 2010

What Was Your First Clue?

8:40 AM and I have already exceeded my (self-imposed) quota for caffeinated coffee. Must be Friday.

(I stopped bothering to introduce myself on Tuesday. It seemed like too much effort for something destined to be a very short term relationship. Does that make me fickle?)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

One of Those Weeks

It's being one of those weeks, or possibly months. And when the going gets tough, what do the tough do?
chocolate cupcakes
Bake cupcakes! (Fooled you! You thought I was going to say knit mittens, right? Toni in FL, I was thinking of you when I made these!) Chocolate with homemade vanilla butter frosting.

Oh, all right. We also knit mittens.
more mittens
FOs 13-16

I did not eat the cupcakes all myself, I took them to share with friends over the weekend. (Thus cunningly using up the last of the confectionary sugar left from Christmas cookie frosting without doing something insane that would involve eating all of it myself. Fortunately I'm too lazy to make cinnamon rolls nearly as often as I'd like to eat them.)

But, lest you think that I have abandoned all my other WIPs, I assure you this is not the case. I'm making progress on my sister's sweater, and I've finished the first Rose sock and cast on the second.
Rose sock the first

I wasn't sure about the lace ribbing at first (which I swiped from the Fool's Rush sock), but I think I like it.
Lace ribbing.

I continue to really love the Serenity sock yarn, which is pretty, soft, comfortable to wear, and reasonably priced. The only downside is that it's a fairly fine fingering weight, which keeps leading me to cast on socks in 00 needles. It makes beautiful socks, but not fast ones!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday Morning

Coffee, meet Robin. Your minutes are numbered.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Can't Get a Rise Out of This

I love Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. I've made some very tasty bread from that book. But when you refrigerate the dough for the whole two weeks they say you can? You don't so much get 'oven lift' as 'oven sprawl' or perhaps 'oven lounge'. Or in other words, you'd better like flatbread.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The State of the WIPs Address

So, since I have succumbed to urge to follow Toni down the path to insanity, it would probably be a good idea to review my WIPs and planned projects for the year:

1) Mittens- these are clearly going to be the base on which high numbers are built. Just assume for the sake of argument there's a pair in progress- I'll be posting only pics of the FOs, since they're so quick. One of the compelling things about these (aside from finishing in just an evening or two) is that I'm really down to the bottom of my 'washable worsted mitten-and-hat yarn' bag. There's something rather seductive about completely wiping out a segment of my stash. (For one thing...perfect excuse to go yarn shopping. Woot!)

I also have various feltable wool leftovers, which I could use for mittens and mitts for myself. (Any mittens--and most other items--that I plan to give away are knit in machine-washable yarn, it's just easier. But I regularly wash loads of wool sweaters, so it's no real trouble to make additional items from feltable wool for myself.)

And speaking of mittens:
Assorted mittens
FO #s 10, 11, 12

2) The green Aran sweater-- waiting for me to sort out some issues with my neckline changes. Still, this is nearly complete. It just needs a couple of few evenings of concentrated effort.

3) The bamboo sweater-- it's on size 0 needles. Need I say more? I do pick it up and work on it every now and again, but don't be surprised if it's still here in January 2011. It's certainly not a good candidate for an FO challenge.

4) The fluffy yellow sweater- this yarn is more gift yarn, and a near relation to the fluffy blue sweater I just finished. It's going to be long- a thigh-length cardigan, round neck, seed stitch borders. Currently I'm well up the back, closing in on the armholes. The yarn is Firenza Brushed, an acrylic- but probably the nicest acrylic I've ever knit. I can't get over how pretty it is...pale yellow, with flecks of gold and tan--it's going to look absolutely stunning on my red-headed sister. Here's a not-very-interesting picture. Really, pieced sweaters just Do Not Photograph well while in progress.
Yellow fluffy sweater

In sweater plans generally, I have yarn for at least three more sweaters, maybe four.

5) The rose arch socks- I'm currently getting close to the end of sock one.

I have yarn for four more pairs of socks in fingering weight. Plus leftovers of three colors that don't clash horribly and might wind up being a fifth pair of socks--or maybe something else. And I have some worsted weight wool for socks for my brother-in-law, but need to get some more, as there are Christmas socks to be considered. (Also, one-and-a-half socks are less than impressive under the tree. Which is the number of brother-in-law red wool socks I currently have yarn for.)

6) A hat for my husband- The man does not own a winter hat. He probably has a baseball cap or two in the back of the closet, but doesn't often wear them. In part it's because he has a large head, and can't easily find a hat that fits. And in part it's just that he doesn't like wearing them. If it's too cold, he addresses the situation by not going out. Or occasionally by pulling up the unlined hood attached to his jacket. However I maintain that he should have *one* warm hat that fits him, just in case he has to be out when it's really bitter. (Also, looking at him going hatless in the wind makes me feel chilly.) This I can do with sweater leftovers.

7) Random- I have some funky gift yarn that will probably wind up being a scarf or scarves. Maybe the ruffled sort- they look like fun.

8) Baby stuff- I have just received a whole pile of baby/sport weight yarn in the gift bags. Definitely time to make something for nephews or other little people in my social circle.

So, that's the plan. We'll see if it survives contact with the enemy. (Which I think is probably me, in this case.)