22 May 2007


Ah, the thrill of victory. I never won anything before.
KitKatKnit had a name-that-painting contest, and I got lucky.

I am extra lucky because the prize is roving, and one of my goals for this summer is learning to spin.

Thanks, KitKatKnit!

Which brings me to the next contest. Skeins Her Way is having a contest that is more of a helpful motivator for her blog readers, asking each entrant to post a list of his/her knitting goals for summer.

I wondered whether "goals" meant "things you think you actually will do" or "things that in a perfect world you would do, along with solving world hunger." But Ali's own list left no doubt. It's the latter.

So here are my goals for summer.

Learn to spin.
Finish my Angela shawl.
Finish my tricolor tweed jacket-in-progress.
A linen sweater/jacket of some sort with that great linen in my stash, in a lace pattern.
A pair of socks with my still-untouched Tequila-Sunrise-colored Koigu PPPM.
A pair of felted slippers.
Finish my sock-pal socks.
And experiment with the neat stuff Nona is doing with the sideways sock. I am completely inspired.

This list may seem modest, but if I am doing everything else I hope to do this summer, I won't even get that much done.

PS: Still no baby.
Edited to add: BABY!!! THIS MORNING!! 8.5 pounds, still nameless, born in bed before the midwife even got there. (!!!)

21 May 2007

Baby Knitting

We interrupt the long string of Sockapalooza posts for an important message.

See this? This is a completed baby blanket.
Stephanie says on good authority that baby knitting has to be finished for a baby to be born.

So like a good knitter, I finished my nephew's blanket on time. Down to the crochet border.

So where's the baby?

He was due to arrive on May 18. Note that it is now May 21. My brother assures me that if my sister-in-law were carrying any lower, he would actually be waving out at the rest of the family. But he is still inside.

I am hoping that posting images of his birthday gift will act as an inducement for him to make an appearance.
Because I am going up there on Friday, and I want to meet a baby. (At this rate, I might be present for the birth!)

See that knitting, kid? How can you resist?

20 May 2007

Size matters, part II


They're too big.

I've been blithely measuring on my own foot, thinking that my feet are about the same size as my sock pal's. But they're not. They are the same LENGTH as my sock pal's. But hers are more than an inch narrower. And I've been worried these are too loose on MY foot.


I'm far enough into these that I'm considering knitting the whole thing.
Silver lining: that way, I can make sure the pattern works. I can then knit her a new, cleaner, smaller pair without any of the minor glitches that have emerged in this pair. (They will also go faster, being smaller.)
And then I will have a nice new pair of socks from Sockapalooza as well, which will help compensate if I remain a sock-pal orphan.

And I don't know if I can face frogging AGAIN!!!!!

Tale of the Toe

I’m not sure I’m lovin’ this.

The Bear stoically endures modeling a work-in-progress.

But back to the abovementioned (or, to be more precise about this layout, belowmentioned) Eastern Cast-On. Thanks, Interweave (and Ann Budd): once again, you have revolutionized my sock-making. The provisional cast-on I’ve been using for toe-ups until now is fine, but equipment-intensive (I always find myself wanting to cast on at moments when I don’t have waste yarn or a crochet hook handy). Furthermore, the toes of my sock pal’s sock are black, and the thought of trying to unzip and pick up all those teeny tiny stitches, given the tendency of black yarn to be invisible, was causing me some concern (even with Wendy’s post about unzipping reassuring me that I’m not alone in my lack of fluency in this technique). But now: wrap the yarn around the needles, knit into it, and you’re off.

(Of course, it took me about an hour of obsessive, dead-to-the-world, hunched-over-in-some-no-doubt-bizarre-and-embarrassing-posture knitting in a local café to figure out how to do it. Those line drawings always make it look so deceptively easy, and I always feel stupid for not being able just to pick up the needles and whirl away on my first try. I have the same problem with cookbooks.)

The toe with which I finally emerged from the coffee shop, blinking blearily at the light like a waking groundhog, not only gleefully resisted all my attempts to photograph it (being black), but also proved, on inspection, to have been knit for the full-sized cousin of the beloved bear who is modeling my current attempt above. Somehow I had misremembered my sock pal’s foot as being 10 1/2 inches in diameter (an extreme overstatement), and this particular toe, character-ful as it was, would have been too big even for that. Rrrip.

A black cloud? A UFO? You decide.

Anyway, now I am heedlessly plunged into my toe-up, multi-colored and multi-designed sock. And I am just not sure about it. On the one hand, I may have figured out how to fix the discrepancy between the slip-stitch sole and the striped top of the foot by adding a couple of extra rows on the sole at intervals; and adding a slip-stitch pattern on the top of the foot (I am thinking of a diamond inset with my sock pal’s initials. Tacky? Tell me) will help even up the discrepancy further. If I like the pattern, that is. Right now, it is that diamond, in particular, that I am unsure of. But without it, the top of the foot may look just too plain. I might have to go back and add some ribbing or something.

Top (note the questionable inlay diamond beginning to emerge at the center)

One thing is working the way I planned: the slip-stitch makes a nice thick sole.

Bottom (in which my hand demonstrates that it got a manicure since the last photo op. However, it now thinks this picture makes it look pasty, and fat. There’s no pleasing it.)

Given the number of times I’ve ripped so far, I have a new concept – I think I will document, not places I’ve knit the sock, but places I’ve frogged it. Yesterday, for example, I frogged in the break during an opera performance. Too bad I didn’t have a camera.

PS - I see Blogger now saves drafts automatically. Gosh, they were listening.

10 May 2007

Houston, we have swatches

First, thank you all so much for all of your supportive feedback. Wow.

And in defense of my sock pal - she did not say she was picky about yarn at all. In fact, she is open to anything. But her blog is extremely impressive and shows she is a true connoisseur. So I am all the more anxious to come up with something classy.

With this in mind, I am asking for more advice.

After all of your support, I have been swatching away with my chosen colors. I am drunk on these colors. I can't believe I had this yarn dormant in my stash. Against the black, the blues just sing out. Unfortunately I am not having much luck photographing it with my old camera. But maybe this gives some, blurred sense of how pretty it is. Here's Swatch #1. (Note: I made up a pattern as I went along, just to see what a pattern would look like - I would never knit anything this wonky into a real sock!)

I loved this swatch after I made it. But it is also a dense and unyielding fabric, and not very sock-like. Then, of course, I realized that with mosaic knitting, I was going to get a whole different texture with a flat swatch than I would with a swatch in the round. I also realized that horizontal stripes were going to be a lot more malleable than vertical stripes. So I made this (again, with a make-it-up-as-you-go pattern inlay just to see how it would work):

I love this even more. I do note that the mosaic section pulls on the yarn a bit - I will have to design around that. I think I am going to do some kind of medallion over horizontal stripes on the top of the foot, and then on the leg do an all-over mosaic design.

So here's my new question. I love, love, love these colors and will definitely make socks out of them. But it still makes a very dense and heavy sock - this is clearly a winter sock. I wish I could post a sample for everyone to feel, but failing that, here's my question - should I make these for myself and make something light and airy for my sock pal? Would you be disappointed to get a heavy sock in the sock swap, rather than something lacy you could wear with sandals? (I am actually not a big fan of socks with sandals, but you know what I mean. And I lived for 11 years in Germany, where the style is not uncommon.)

Advice welcome. And thank you all again for your comments. I am new to this blog thing and not sure about the etiquette of replying to posts that say "no reply" in the address field, but please know that every single one was very much appreciated.

08 May 2007

Sock advice

OK, all you sock-knitters out there: I need advice. I have signed up for Sockapalooza, my very first sock exchange, and I am excited. (Still waiting to hear from my own sock pal, but I am fully prepared to be one of the sock-less orphans; the fun is in taking part.)

So I read my sock pal's preferences and I immediately thought of a perfect yarn I already had in my stash, which is in just the colors she said she liked. After a few days of ruminating what keeps coming to mind is a mosaic sock in two colors, with this beautiful blue-green combo set off against black. (The greens don't really come out in this picture.)

Here's my dilemma, though: my sock pal is a real sock-yarn connoisseur, and this isn't a particularly marquee yarn. It's an Italian wool (70%) and polyamide blend, but it isn't Koigu or Schaefer or silk or mohair or handpainted or any of the other special yarns we all know and love.

So that's my question: if I really want to spoil my sock pal, should I get some new and finer yarn? I would love to try Lorna's Laces or some of the boutique hand-painted yarns. I'm not being stingy, and I don't care about the cost - I just want to make something she will like. But I think a mosaic sock in this yarn could be gorgeous.

What do you all think?

07 May 2007

915 words to go...

Blogger won't let me upload any of my pictures - what is going on???
A blog without pictures is like, well, a lot of writing.

"Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, 'and what is the use of a book,' thought Alice, 'without pictures or conversation?'"

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

01 May 2007

And for my next trick...

I said to my husband that one fascinating thing about knitting is how hard it can sometimes be to grasp very simple concepts. Then, once you've grasped them, they seem elementary.

Take knitting in the round. A friend of mine recently embarked on her first-ever sock, and said it took her a long time to figure out how to join the ends and make it work in a circle. I completely empathize. I had the same problem myself.
And I remember my confusion trying to figure out how NOT to knit in the round on a circular needle. The idea of just turning the thing around seemed, well, complicated. (I am not usually dumb. At least, I flatter myself that this is the case.)

The concept that has occupied my brain for the last few days is the crochet border.
I had an epiphany about the possibilities of the crochet border when I found myself in Sioux Falls, South Dakota the other week. Had I realized that Sioux Falls, South Dakota is the home of two wonderful yarn stores and, even more amazingly, Knitter's magazine, I might have made an effort to get there sooner. As it was, pure happenstance, serendipity, and a new friend led me straight into the Knitter's offices, where I tried not to hyperventilate as I fingered the original shawls that were photographed for this beautiful book. (It was hard to keep a tremor out of my voice as I attempted a normal conversational tone - Oh, yes, I get to talk about knitting with experts and peruse 25 gorgeous shawls every day.)

Rick, the editor, matched my offhand tone as in 15 minutes of casual conversation he dispensed more knitting wisdom than I had heard in 15 months. The greatest revelation concerned the possibilities of crochet. I confess that I had thereto had more than a trace of knitter's snobbery about crochet. Granny squares, afghans, you know (I am not alone here). Then I saw a stunning jacket spread across Rick's desk (I wish I had a picture), with exactly the border I have been dreaming of for the jacket I'm currently working on. (A jacket very like one I later found in this lovely book. Yes, I have become a paid endorsement for XRX books. Except they do not pay me. They get it on merit.)

So when I got home I decided the first thing to do would be to apply a crochet border to my all-but-done Log Cabin Blanket.

Well, I sat there for two days with various printed resources, trying to figure out how to put on a crochet border on my sample Log Cabin swatch. I got something that looked like an I-cord, but knottier; and I got something that looked kind of like a mess. My swatch looked like one of those ragged potholders children produce in third grade. Or maybe first grade.

And tonight, thanks to my third source, which had a different set of instructions on how to do the same thing, it suddenly fell into place and I crocheted a border.

(My husband was fascinated by the crochet hook. "What is that elegant little implement? And you only need one of them?")

It was just as thrilling as riding a bicycle for the first time.

I am ridiculously in love with this border. The whole thing still looks like a potholder, but it is not the border's fault. The border is a thing of excellence: firm, solid, shapely, pleasing to the touch. I hope that it may bring even the wonky stripes of my Log Cabin into line (though this Gee's Bend-like sample swatch is beyond hope).

My husband could only laugh at my absurd delight in my crocheted border. I attempted to explain to him that my mastery of the crochet border meant that I would not have to use a 40" circular needle to pick up a few hundred stitches around the edge of the Log Cabin (actually, I was thinking about an applied I-cord, but I referred to the circular for dramatic effect). This was either beyond my powers of explanation or his ability to comprehend, although I explained it two or three times, with increasing emphasis. He was, however, genuinely happy for me.