Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Finished: Widdershins

They're done!

Pattern: Widdershins by Brooke Chenoweth Creel, summer '06 Knitty
Yarn: Austermann Step (75% superwash wool, 25% nylon, infused with aloe vera and jojoba oil), color 22, one 100 g skein
Needles: US 1 12" Addi Turbo circs for stockinette portions, US 2 16" Knit Picks circs for ribbing, US 3 for binding off
Started/Completed: February 24/February 28 (four days baby! fastest socks ever knit!)
Mods: I rewrote the pattern to enlarge the sock circumference, since I knew 54 stitches would never make it around J's foot (or mine, for that matter).

These were a ridiculously fast knit, as the only parts I had to pay attention to were the gusset increases and the heel. I can do stockinette while watching TV, talking on the phone, reading -- probably while sleeping, too, although I have yet to test it.

My favorite part about these socks -- aside from the oh-so-subtle striping -- is the sides of the heel flap:

The ssk/p2tog on each side of the heel flap creates a selvedge-type column of stitches that gives such a constructed look to the sock. I love it.

I knit this pattern mostly because I was interested in the toe-up construction of the sock. I was interested to see how a heel flap is done coming from the opposite direction, since my other attempts at toe-up socks have used short row heels. I really liked how this pattern worked out. The gusset increases mimic their corresponding decreases in the standard top-down construction and the heel flap itself is virtually indistinguishable from its counterpart. The one thing I never like about toe-up socks still bothered me with this pair, however: I can never get the bind off around the leg to be loose enough. Although you can see that, going up two needles sizes notwithstanding, the leg is still a bit snug on me, I think it'll be fine on J. He doesn't have my calves.

The real winner in these socks is the yarn. It is delightful to work with. I think I mentioned before that it's a tad bit slick on metal needles, but that didn't much bother me. Its high wool content prevents a dropped stitch from sliding down more than a row, so it's easy to fix. I swear that my fingertips actually got softer as I knit, so I have no doubt they'll work on feet. One of these days (and by that I mean when I've worked my way through the yarn stash and can allow myself to come off the yarn diet), I'll buy another skein and knit a pair of these for myself. Mine, of course, will be colorful!

And now on to cast on a new sock, since this knitter must have a sock in progress at all times.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Turbos, Indeed

I think these socks are officially going to be the Fastest Socks I Ever Knit.

Here's the first sock (completed yesterday evening) and a foot ready for gusset increases. What you don't see is that I haven't woven in the end from the first sock yet -- it's still attached to a tapestry needle and hidden under the leg -- as I'm still nervous as usual about running out of yarn. I'm working from a 100 gram skein, which is always enough for a pair of socks, but J does have big feet. I keep reminding myself that I never have a problem when I knit him his usual socks, and those have a leg that's 9" before you even start the heel flap (these aren't quite that high).

If, in theory, I was able to finish up the second sock by tomorrow night, these would be my fifth completed pair of socks for the month. Probably not going to happen -- oh, if only this year were a leap year and I could get one extra day!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Finished: Child's First Sock

Pattern: Child's First Sock in Shell Pattern from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock (80% superwash wool, 20% nylon), colorway 25ns/mint, two skeins (with plenty of leftovers for a pair or two of baby socks!)
Needles: Two 12" US 1 Addi Turbo circs
Started/Completed: February 18/February 24
Mods: picked up an extra couple of stitches for the gussets, thus completing a couple extra gusset decreases (my usual mod)

Here's a detail shot of the beautiful stitch pattern. Obviously yarning over the right way was the key to making this pattern work. These fit perfectly and the color is so cheerful (in real life, much brighter than it appears here). And if you're counting, this is my fourth pair of socks finished this month.
This pair will come in handy, since I opened my sock drawer on Friday morning only to discover a terrible tragedy -- my favorite socks had become a casualty of war(drobe):

The sock on the left has a weak spot (up near the top), while the right sock has a full-blown hole. I'm going to try to darn these with the little bit of yarn I have left, but they are wearing out quickly. I have another skein of this yarn (cotton/lycra blend from Greenwood Fiberworks), so I suppose those will be my next pair of socks.
I did a great deal of knitting this weekend. In addition to finishing up the socks (completing the entire foot of the second sock alone yesterday), I made good progress on J's Cambridge Jacket. I took a vacation day on Friday, and since J was in town but at work most of the day, I caught up on my knitting podcasts and knit away, finishing up the right front and starting the first sleeve. The sleeves are all stockinette, so they should be pretty fast.
After finishing up the second sock for myself last night, of course I immediately had to cast on for a new one. I've done the last couple pairs I knit for myself, so I thought the next pair should be for J. To change things up, I decided to go with the toe-up Widdershins pattern from the summer '06 Knitty. As these are for J -- who you know is rather boring/unexciting in his taste in sock patterns -- I'm doing the plain version. However, I was worried that the pattern as written would be too small, so I did some calculations to make the sock larger by eight stitches.

This yarn is Austermann Step, which contains aloe and jojoba oil. It's a tad bit slick on metal needles, but it's nice and smooth and actually seems to be softening my dry fingertips as I knit. J is also really liking the subtle striping effect (shades of gray -- are you surprised?). These were cast on at about 10 p.m. last night and you can see how quickly they knit up. The toe up gusset/heel flap formula is intriguing, although I'm not sure I like it as well as cuff-down construction. This will see some action tonight during the Oscars!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Return of 40 Guy

So last night was our monthly knit night and I met up with Jen, Jenn, Besty, and later Lori in the Barnes & Noble cafe. While we were waiting for our favorite eccentric, we also noticed a teenage girl with a brand-new tattoo and jeans so low we saw ass cleavage. We started to worry that 40 guy wasn't going to show, as he seemed to be running a little late. Plus, there was a cop wandering through the store who seemed to be particularly interested in the cafe area, and we all started theorizing that perhaps 40 Guy had gotten his 40 by ripping off a liquor store and wasn't showing up because he knew he was going to be busted if he did.

We needn't have worried:

Ah, 40 guy. He never disappoints. Unfortunately, I think he may be onto us, as I caught him looking at us several times. We may need to lay low with the pictures and so forth for the next month or two, just to put him off our scent. (And for the record, I took this shot very sneakily, pretending I was showing pictures already on the camera to Jenn and turning off the flash.)

Meanwhile, I did get some knitting done while keeping an eye out for 40 Guy. First I finished off a sock that had been started last Sunday:

This is the Child's First Sock in Shell Pattern from Knitting Vintage Socks. You may recall that I tried this pattern once before, but ran into an issue with fit as a result of not knowing how to YO correctly. No problem this time; it's a perfect fit, and half of the leg of the second sock is already done.

These socks are only one of several WIPs I've still got going. I started Shedir last weekend with the Brooks Farm Four Play and it's coming along slowly. Hats usually are a relatively fast knit, but this pattern has cabling every other row and rounds that are 128 stitches around (this is worsted weight yarn worked on US 3 needles).
This doesn't look like much, but the pattern is much more apparent when it's stretched out.
the yarn is delightfully silky and soft. It can be a bit fiddly when working the cables as it has a tendency to stick to itself. This was an issue when I wound it into a center-pull ball; I never actually got it on the swift, but instead had to manually unwind it from the hank and then wind it on the ball winder. I'm doing these cables without a cable needle to speed things along, but I have to be careful that I don't drop the stitches when I do.

Finally, there's J's Cambridge Jacket, which is moving steadily along. Here we are as of last night -- back complete, left front complete, right front started, and Elmer for scale:

For some reason I've been finding it hard to maintain progress on this project, and I think I've finally discovered the reason -- I'm fine with the knitting of the sweater, but I'm worried of ruining it with shoddy finishing. I still haven't gotten over the disaster of the first sweater, and it would just devastate me to have finally knit J a sweater and have it be another mess. Fortunately the order I placed with Knit Picks yesterday (which contained absolutely NO YARN, I will have you know!) contains what might prove to be my savior: Finishing Techniques for Hand Knitters. That title pretty much says it all, doesn't it? I also ordered Nancy Bush's Folk Socks, a set of US 9 dpns, and a chart holder, since I seem to be so into lace socks these days. Now I just have to keep my fingers crossed those knitters in Leetsdale don't get their hands on the package ...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Public Service Announcement

Tomorrow is the third Wednesday of the month, so you know what that means: the monthly meeting of the Hurricane Knitters at the Waterworks Barnes & Noble (we meet in the cafe, usually starting about 7 p.m.). Be there or be square, and bring your knitting (knitblog and 40 are optional)!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Finished: Monkey Socks

Pattern: Monkey (winter '06 Knitty) by Cookie A.
Yarn: Knit Picks Memories (100% merino), colorway Yukon, two skeins, gifted by my Sockret Pal
Needles: US 1 Addi Turbo 12" circs (two of 'em)
Started/Completed: February 9*/February 17
Mods: none

These socks were such a fast knit they practically knit themselves! The yarn, which arrived in my last package from my Sockret Pal spoiler, proved to be perfect for this pattern, as the lace pattern prevents any unsightly pooling of the variegated yarn. My Sockret Pal has certainly figured out my colors; these socks will go perfectly with my favorite wardrobe item, a comfy pair of jeans.

Strangely, there was one spot where these did pool just a teensy tiny bit -- the same spot on both socks. It doesn't bother me that much, as that part of my foot is going to be right at the top of the instep of my shoe. I'm sorry these photos don't capture the lace pattern very well. They haven't been blocked yet, as they literally just came off the needes (yes, I am home knitting socks on a Saturday night -- what of it?). I'm going to go give them a bath right after I finish up this post so that they'll be ready for wearing this week.
*Technically I did cast on for these on Friday the 9th. However, I'm not sure this time span from cast on to bind off is all that accurate. I cast on when I arrived home from work last Friday, completed the full cuff, and started the lace pattern when I realized that I had two extra stitches (apparently I can't read or count at the end of the week). I frogged and started again later that evening, but didn't get any further than five rows in before putting it down again. I didn't pick it back up until Sunday, and then I proceeded to knit the entire leg of the first sock that day. I finished it and cast on for the second sock on Tuesday evening. So, yes, while I did technically cast on last Friday, in my opinion these socks were really started last Sunday, making it less than a week of knitting time for these socks. Fast indeed!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Finished: Log Cabin Baby Blanket

Meet Elmer, the newest elephant in the family.
Pattern: Log Cabin Baby Blanket; section width determined by random number generator
Yarn: recycled from an Old Navy cardigan; 10% wool, 90% acrylic
Needles: US 7 Addi Turbo circs
Dimensions: 27.5" x 28.5" before blocking, 30.5" x 32" after blocking
Recipient: my coworker's baby, born at 2:30 a.m. Monday morning

Not much else to say about this one. It was an easy and straightforward knit, although it was getting awfully heavy toward the end. This was the perfect use for this yarn; it's soft and machine washable, so very baby friendly.

* * * * *

Thank you all for your compliments on the socks! I'm hoping to get them and some other goodies out to my Sockret Pal this weekend so that she can soon model them on her own feet. To answer Carrie's question, I don't know how drafty they are. I only had them on for a couple of minutes to take the photos -- and to be perfectly honest, we shot them right after I got out of the shower, so everything was a bit drafty. They are wool, though, so I would think they'd keep your feet warm but also let them breathe a bit (do you ever have that problem where your feet sweat even when you're cold?).

Like many others in the Midwest and Northeast, we're cleaning up from that big ice storm. J did manage to get in from Chicago today, so we're laying low and keeping warm and hoping the cars will start in the morning. If ever there was a time to sit with a big pile of wool in one's lap, this would be it -- and J is particularly happy about that, as (now that the baby blanket is finished) that pile of wool is his sweater once again.

Happy Valentine's Day! I leave you with a shot of a couple of the roses J surprised me with at work yesterday (they were delivered a day early because the store was apparently worried they wouldn't make it out today).

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Finished: Fancy Silk Socks

Pattern: Fancy Silk Sock from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock (80% superwash wool, 20% nylon), color 3ns/Grapevine, two skeins
Needles: US 1 Addi Turbo 12" circs
Started/Completed: January 11/February 11 (I finished two other pairs in between)
Recipient: my Sockret Pal (rest assured these went right into a blocking bath after this photo shoot!)
Mods: none

This is a pattern I probably wouldn't have knit on my own if my Sockret Pal hadn't specifically listed it as one she'd like to have for her socks. I have to say that I'm glad she did, because these turned out beautifully. They did require a little more mental effort than most socks I knit, what with a 12-row pattern repeat, but by the end I had it memorized. I knit most of the foot of the second sock last night while J and I watched Inside Man at our friends' house; by then I was pretty much on autopilot, and they only required about another hour of knitting time this mornign to finish them up.

Here's a detail shot of the stitch pattern:

I'm definitely very pleased with how these turned out, and I certainly hope my Sockret Pal likes them!

The Knitting Festival ...

or, In Which This Knitter Gives In to Temptation.

In a word, the knitting festival was overwhelming. There were many vendors crammed into a relatively small space, which was crowded with knitters. I had to do a couple laps through before I finally was able to select some diet-approved yarn.

Can you spot the groundhog amidst this luscious selection of Interlacements Tiny Toes? He was there to help Jenn with gauge. I met up with her and her blogless friend Dana after I'd done most of my shopping and was able to point them in the direction of good stuff. We also saw Besty and Donna, who was trying to pry her daughter away from the angora bunnies. I also finally met Cheryl in person.

I'm sure you're wondering exactly what I bought on my first yarn splurge since the diet was enacted, aren't you? Well, who am I to disappoint?

In the background, you can see the two patterns -- the Flower Basket Shawl (yes, I'm aware I'm the last one to the party on this one) and one for a Noni felted bag. In the middle is a US 3 16" circular needle (for a project I'll get to in a second). As for the yarn, I kept myself to only a few indulgences, and for the most part to my self-imposed rule of only buying yarn I couldn't get readily at an LYS. The one exception is the Lorna's Laces (colorway Bittersweet) you see there on the left. Although I could get this easily at an LYS or online, but I thought this was an acceptible exception since it was cheaper than it would be from the other two outlets. The blue/green/tan skein is 450 yarns of fingering weight superwash merino from Autumn House Farm; the colorway is called Skye Sea Garden. The gorgeous silver/charcoal skein is Brooks Farm Four Play, a worsted weight 50/50 wool/silk blend. It's destined to be a Shedir for me, since my Odessa is getting a bit thin and worn out. I'll use that new US 3 circ for this project. Finally, I bought two skeins of the Wildefoote sock yarn (colorway Blue Blood Red) to make another pair of socks for J, who, now that he has his first non-gray pair of socks, has decided he wants more.

Now I've gotten that out of my system, I think I should be good knitting from stash for quite a while. What did you get at the knitting festival (if you were able to make it)?

Friday, February 09, 2007

Knitting Festival

Tomorrow I will be going to the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival. I'll be wearing my reversed Pomotomi test socks and carrying my new-ish Jordana Paige knitter's purse (the black one). Hope to see you there! (And I won't be offended if you're bent over to examine my socks!)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Finished: J's Valentine's Socks

Since these are his Valentine's Day gift, here's a little sock love for you:

Yes, I did take the time to arrange these socks into a heart. Why, did you want to see the typical sock shot? Okay, here you go:

Pattern: Gentleman's Plain Winter Sock (aka J's favorite sock) from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush
Yarn: Universal Yarn Co. Pace (75% superwash wool, 25% polyamide), color 10, two skeins
Needles: Two 12" US 1 Addi Turbo circs
Started/Completed: February 1/February 7
Recipient: my darling fiance, for Valentine's Day (don't worry, he knows he's getting these and he's already seen them in progress)
Mods: decreased toes to 18 sts and grafted, rather than decreasing to 14 sts and pulling the yarn through all of them.
These are my February socks for SAM3. Although I already had a pair of socks in progress (the pair for my Sockret Pal, to be specific), I really wanted to follow the spirit of this KAL by starting and finishing a pair of socks in the span of the month. Although these socks are indeed a fast knit -- and they only took me as many days as they did because I spent many hours last weekend working on J's sweater instead -- stockinette takes longer when you're knitting for a foot that's 10 1/2" long!
When I got to the toe of the second sock, I encountered the same problem with more instep stitches than sole stitches as I had on the first sock. It was only at that point that I thought to take another look at the pattern -- and discovered that I was supposed to have transferred the two offending stitches from the instep to the sole stitches back at the beginning of the gussets. D'oh! I guess I don't have the pattern memorized, or at least not completely. Fortunately J won't care and is just excited to have another pair of socks in his favorite pattern. I'm just thrilled he finally let me knit him a pair in an actual color!
My spring Interweave Knits arrived today, so I could finally get a closer look at the patterns. I will definitely be knitting Grumperina's socks, and Eunny's socks are just gorgeous, although I have a feeling they'd be a project I'd start and never quite finish (not to mention that I don't think they'd be able to get up over my calves and I have no idea how to incorporate shaping into entrelac). One thing I really like about this issue is the new layout/design of the magazine. The pages seem a lot less cramped and the patterns are easier to read as a result. I also like the photo pages of the projects without the actual pattern, which gives you a chance to just consider the knit without having think about all the technical stuff yet.
Which project do you want to knit first from this issue?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Forward Progress

I'm back and feeling better, so rest assured this post will be much more cheerful than the last!

As you may have heard, we're in the midst of a deep freeze here in the northeast. When I left for work this morning it was -2 degrees outside without wind chill. Brrr. It was only slightly warmer over the weekend, so we spent much of it inside, venturing out on Saturday just to breakfast and then to Pittsburgh Mills to Sears Grand to get a new dishwasher (one that won't spit out water on my feet when it runs!) A great upside to staying inside was that I got plenty of knitting done. I finished the back of J's Cambridge Jacket and started one of the fronts:

It's looking great (and the right size!) so far, and J finally seems to be getting excited about it. When I talked to him earlier this evening, he specifically asked if I was going to working on it this evening.

I've also been flying on his Valentine's socks, which should be done in plenty of time. I finished up the first one and cast on for the second during the Super Bowl last night:

I had a slight hiccup on these in the toe decreases; I discovered that watching the game in a room full of people is not conducive to paying attention to my decreasing, and I wound up with two more stitches on the instep than on the sole. I did an extra round to decrease those last two, keeping the sole stitches even, before grafting the toe stitches together. I don't think you can tell, and J certainly won't know any difference. He did try it on as soon as the ends were woven in and praised it as perfect.

I also did a wee bit of swatching this weekend for Forecast, which I am determined to finally get to once J's sweater is done. All this cold weather has had me wearing the same sweaters over and over again, so I could use another one to work into my wardrobe. I've had the hardest time getting gauge, however. I'm using the yarn called for in the pattern (Cascade 220), but using the needles called for (US 7s) I wound up with too many stitches. So it looks like I'll be using a US 8, which just mystifies me, because I always seem to need to go down a needle size to get gauge. But whatever it takes is fine, as I've got the needles in the right sizes.

You may have noticed that I've been doing some housecleaning with the blog -- new year, new look and so forth. I'm doing it a little at a time, since I'm certainly no expert in Web design and my technology guru (J, that is) is only home on the weekends and usually spends much of that time working. Let me know if you have any thoughts! And I will be trying to get some new thumbnails up of my FOs, but J has to make those in Photoshop, so I'll have to wait until he has time.

On tap tonight is some hard-core knitting on the baby blanket, which has been put to the side since last week. It's getting to be very near completion, and the baby is due this Wednesday, so I'm anxious to finish it up for her -- she will certainly need it in this weather!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A Quick Peek

I'm still sick (I think the cold has progressed to a sinus infection) and I'm developing an awful headache, so I'll make this quick -- just a quick peek at a couple of the WIPs:
That big gray square is the back to J's Cambridge Jacket, about two rows away from the beginning of the armhole shaping. Up top is the cuff of the sock I started this morning to kick of the start of Sock a Month 3. These are for J, too, hopefully to be completed in time to be his Valentine's Day gift. As almost always, it's the regular pattern I knit for him, the Gentleman's Plain Winter Sock from Knitting Vintage Socks. I think I could probably knit this sock in my sleep by now; I started that one this morning and have only spent about two hours on it, and you can see how much is done. Just wait until I get to the stockinette portion.

I know I'm just so full of sunshine tonight, so I'll call that a wrap. More when I'm feeling more cheerful and have something more to show you.