Sunday, November 30, 2008

Knitting with no Photos

I am a bad blogger. It's been weeks since my last post and I don't even have photos to show. Sorry! (some projects can't be shown till Santa arrives, you know).

Because the little gifts have to remain a mystery, this will be a update on some projects underway (also photo free thanks to the dreary weather today). But first, I want to thank you all for your lovely comments, I really do enjoy hearing from you.

The purple sweater is moving along, albeit slowly. Everyone on Ravelry commented on how long it took them to knit the sleeves. Maybe they made the same dumb mistakes I made and that's why they took so long. For instance, I knit up the first sleeve in it's entirety. It took forever because of the double pointed needles and I kept having to shift stitches around till I got the right combination to make the pattern flow. Then, when I put the sleeve onto waste yarn for attaching to the body at a later stage, I discovered I'd knit about an inch too long. No big deal, I thought. I'll just rip it down before I attach it to the body.

Then I started in on the second sleeve. I got about 2 inches in, then put it down for a week. Well, that broke my stride. When I picked it up again, I knitted onward without thinking and completely forgot the pattern required alternating a knit row every other row. I kept looking at the yarn overs and they didn't match the other sleeve, but I couldn't figure out why. This was after I'd knit about two hours and was well into eight inches. So, I ripped down, another evening with no real progress. The next morning I compared sleeves again and discovered an error in the first one! Seems I miscounted the increases (no wonder it was a bit snug!). Damn! That means I'll have to rip the first one back a good 2/3 to correct the increase sequences.

Meanwhile the body section is within about 1 inch of where I want it to be. I'll use the remainder of the current sleeve skein to finish that off and then add on the sleeves. I suspect the real slog will be once the sleeves are attached and each row will have over 300 stitches to work as I make my way up through the shoulders.

The cabled coat is on hold. I did get almost through one sleeve. I even have some pics of the dumb dumb mistakes I made knitting that sleeve. This project takes concentration and large blocks of time to make progress. With all the Christmas knitting in the next four weeks, the coat is on hold.

To pass the time on the subway, I cast on some simple ribbed socks. The yarn is from Lion Brand and it's the first time I've ever played with their yarn. They aren't going well, I've had to rip back three times. Sometimes simple just isn't. Sometimes my quest for perfection makes simple very difficult.

So I've been contemplating this notion for the last several weeks. How I can turn a simple thing into a difficult thing because I just want it to be right. In this case, right means fitting well. Not too tight. In the case of the Ariann sweater, my struggle seems to be finding a good rhythm despite the dpns. It feels like I'm there now, but if I put it down again, who knows what stupid mistake I'll make when I pick it up again.

I think the stress of my job, the news, the world, everything is taking it's toll on my knitting. What is supposed to be my escape, my sanity saver is actually making me more stressed. I've had to rip back so much knitting in the last month it feels like I'm a beginner all over again. Maybe this means I'm pushing the skills to new levels or maybe I'm about to have a breakthrough. I don't know yet. Right now I just want it to be simple again.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Does it Count?

Does it count as knitting if I spend all afternoon updating and organizing my stash in Ravelry? Or does it count as cleaning and tidying up? Because somehow I tripped onto a new feature which tracks the amount of yarn used in projects. And I just had to take advantage of it right away. I started by listing some of my older projects (even without photos) and then linked the yarns used to the stash. Little did I realize I would spend all of four hours doing this! And down another rat hole she goes!

I used to be a very organized person. I would take shopping lists with me to the grocery store, I carefully cleaned my house and never let it get too far behind. I alphabetized the CD collection more often than I care to count! I cleaned closets regularly, took out the trash, straightened out the linens. I had lists for everything - movies to see, restaurants I wanted to try, daily things to do. It was obsessive, yes. But I got things done.

Now, the only obsession is knitting. And the lists, the house cleaning, the grocery shopping, all of it has given way to complete chaos. The house is a mess, cooking is haphazard, the only list these days is the one in my head; the one that reminds me of all the undone things mounting up all around me, all the undone projects. It is a monument to good intentions gone awry. A rat hole, yes indeedy folks, a rat hole.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Lola sleepyface

Lola loves to sleep in warm spots. Her primary MO in life is staying warm. The first day she came home from the shelter, she walked in and made a bee-line for the sofa. It's been like that ever since. When she doesn't get a soft spot on either a bed or sofa, she whines constantly. A real complainer, that one.

Lola prettytoes

When she sleeps her feet start to smell like popcorn. Strange, but true. I love that smell.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

No Longer a Mystery

TTL Mystery Socktoberfest Sock 1

October was Socktoberfest in the virtual knitting world! I mentioned I would join in the fun and since it was my first knit-along, I also decided to jump on the Mystery Sock bandwagon.

The way it worked was neat: every week a new clue was posted on Through the Loops' website. Knit-along participants downloaded the clue and knit furiously throughout the week (or not) and awaited the next clue. I got just a teensy bit behind and finally finished the socks on Friday night.

Thankfully Kristen and Lolly were nice enough to extend the deadline to end of November and for that I am eternally grateful. With the completion of the socks I am eligible, along with the hundreds of other participants, to win a free skein of Colinette Jitterbug sock yarn. This just sweetened the entire experience, it's fun to have a motivating incentive to go along with the group experience.

TTL Mystery Socktoberfest Sock 2

I like these socks very much. It's the most complicated sock pattern I've attempted so far. At first I had some struggles with the cables and the different ssk / k2tog intervals, but after about three false starts it all began to make sense and from then on, smooth knitting. I am enamored of the Eye of Partridge stitch in the heel. This was my first time using this heel variation and I like the dimpled effect.

TTL Mystery Socktoberfest Sock 4

There's alot going on with this pattern. First you have the offset ribbed cuff. Then the leg is a combination of the undulating cable with a ribbed lace background. Then the Eye of Partidge Heel, followed by the continuation of the lace and cable pattern down the instep. By the time I finally got to the toe, I was so relieved to knit stockinette!

TTL Mystery Socktoberfest Sock 5

Thanks to Kristen and Lolly for a really fun project! I will use this pattern again, though I might consider doing the non-cabled version, for a variegated color and a faster knit.

Project details:
Pattern: TTL Mystery Sock by Kristen Kapur, Through the Loops; Socktoberfest 2008
Yarn: Madeline Tosh Sock, Lapis, 1 skein
Needles: Size 1 dpn
Started: October 2, 2008
Finished: November 7, 2008

Charitable Interruption

Charity Child Mittens

We interrupt our regular knitting projects to bring you a pair of cute mittens knit up yesterday. These are destined for charity, though at this point I am unsure which one! Eliza put a shout out to the Knit PH group and I said "sure". I hope to have two pairs ready for Tuesday night's meet up. I'm really looking forward seeing everyone; it's been months!

Charity Child Mittens

Details for this simple project - nothing special but they sure are cute and very sturdy too!
Pattern: random standard mitten pattern, child size
Yarn: Cascade 220, brown and blue from the monster stash; I didn't even have to break open a new skein...
Needles: Size 6 dpns

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sneak Preview

My Ariann

Fueled by the results of the Raglan Sleeve sweater and hell bent on knitting down the overabundance of worsted weight yarn in the personal stash, I cast on another sweater. This one's for me.

It's an easy, one-piece construction with just enough stitch variation to keep me from nodding off. Too soon to say how this will work out, but I am liking it so far.

My Ariann

C'est Finis

Mom Raglan Sweater

Just in time for the really crisp weather, the Raglan sweater I made for Mom is officially finished. Buttons bought, sewn on, fully blocked, ready for serious fall afternoon dog walking.

Here we are in the backyard reluctantly modeling the finished project. Despite this reluctance I am told this sweater will be used. Glad to hear that.

Mom Raglan Sweater

There were some modifications I had to make on the way to completion. I noticed some recent weight gain during one of the previous fittings. Weight gain is a happy outcome because she fretted for almost two years about how much weight loss had occurred. To the point that she had to take in many skirts and jackets. I said nothing, fearing serious misunderstanding (a frequent occurrence when becoming more mentally fragile) but decided to give the sweater some ease in the hips. That meant ripping about 7 inches back on the body and reknitting, adding a total of 16 stitches in the hip area. Do you see it?

Mom Raglan Sweater

I also made the sleeves a bit longer and with greater ease. She likes sleeves to cover her wrist bones hence the length. And fewer decreases as I worked down to accommodate wearing long sleeve turtlenecks underneath.

Mom Raglan Sweater
I am completely amazed how nicely this yarn eases and relaxes after a good bath. When the sweater finished blocking the fabric is even, the yarn feels nicely skooshy and it looks almost perfect. I am very pleased and will be interested to see how it wears - will it pill and fuzz, ultimately destined to look like shabby cheaply made garment from a big box store?

Mom Raglan Sweater

One note of caution - the yarn bled like a mo'fo' while soaking in COLD water! Next time it gets washed we will add a good dose of white vinegar. Anyone else seen this happen with Cascasde 220?

And yes, that's Lola's big beautiful Coonhound butt in the background. Eating dirt, a favorite (and seriously strange) pastime.

Mom Raglan Sweater

Here are the specs for this one now that we are finally finished!
Pattern: Adult Basic: Top-Down Raglan #60 by Gail Tanquary
Yarn: Cascade 220, Lake Chelan Heather Green, #9451; 5.5 skeins used (1210 yards)
Needles: Size 8 for the body, Size 6 for the ribbed edges
Buttons: 6 Brass buttons from M&J Trimming
Started: July 2007
Finished: October 2008