Although I really should have been working on something already on the needles, last night I took the Blue Sky Organic Cotton that had been marinating in the stash for a couple of years to knit night and finally cast on for Rainbow's baby doll. This is proof that I truly love her, because if there is one type of yarn I really don't like to knit, it's cotton. This cotton is better than most, but it's still pretty hard on my hands; I had to stop and stretch my hands several times during the evening because they were cramping up. By the time I went to bed, I was ready to start the decreases on the body, so I'd gotten most of that piece done.
I had hoped that this would be a quick-ish knit, but there are so many pieces to do, I can say with certainty that it's not. Fortunately I have not promised her that it's going to be done by a certain date or time, so I don't feel the need to rush. I am, however, going to read ahead to see if there is any way to combine some of the pieces (like the body and the head or the legs and the feet). I'm looking for a way to minimize the sewing, of course, but knowing how Rainbow tends to treat her stuffed friends, I think that having as many pieces connected as possible is going to be better for durability.
In other knitting, I have reached the heel of my second handspun sock and did manage to snap a photo of my new trick for minimizing holes at the top of the gusset to share with you. Although I know of many tricks to eliminate holes that result where stitches are picked up for the gusset, my issue has always been in the instep stitches right next to where the stitches are picked up; for some reason, those stitches always seem to stretch out, resulting in a hole that I've always had to sew up on the inside after the socks were complete.
As I was knitting the first sock of this pair, I had a thought: Because creating the heel of a sock involves short rows, and with short rows often comes the wrap & turn, what if I wrapped those instep stitches when I was starting the heel and then picked up the wraps once I started the gusset decreases? That's just what I did, and I discovered it works beautifully. Here's how I do it: After the first row of the heel flap, I bring the yarn to the front and then wrap the next stitch (this'll be the first instep stitch later). On the next row (wrong side), I bring the yarn to the back and wrap the next stitch (which will be the last instep stitch). Here's what the first wrap looks like:
Those wraps stay in place until the first round of the gussets, when they're lifted and worked together with the stitch they were wrapped around. The wraps help to prevent the stitches from getting too stretched out, and when they're knit together with the stitches, that little bit of extra yarn behind the stitch helps to hide any hole that might otherwise appear. This is such an easy thing to do and makes such a noticeable difference. I'm sure someone else out there has "unvented" this little trick, so I can't really claim it, but if you've not stumbled upon it before, perhaps it will be useful.
Tomorrow is my last day of work for the year (or, if the Mayans were right, my last day ever), and we have a busy weekend ahead. After that, though, I'm on vacation for two weeks. I plan to get at least a few posts up in that time, but don't be surprised if I'm so relaxed that I forget!
*My sincerest apologies for the earworm