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"Knitting is very conducive to thought. It is nice to knit a while, put down the needles, write a while,
then take up the sock again." - Dorothy Day

Travel Time

I'm taking a little trip to see some family next week. I am flying. We all know what this means; hours in an airport (knitting time), hours on a plane (more knitting time), rinse and repeat. Of course, the moment I booked my flight I started thinking about which project I should take with me.

The sweater? Not really travel material; straight needles are so long, and the space will be tight. And it's kind of boring; better for TV knitting than focus knitting.

The Tofutsies socks? Socks are a lovely travel companion, and these are already subway knitting, so it all makes perfect sense, doesn't it? Plus the yarn is not very wooly, and considering my destination is a desert, not a bad idea. Quill Lace is a perfect subway project; easy to memorize, easy to whip in and out of the bag at a moment's notice, highly portable. But the boring factor strikes again. During the hours and hours of travel, I fear it would put me to sleep. Also, I'm almost done with the first one, which means I'd only be bringing along one sock. The thought of finishing it, and being without knitting for even a moment, terrifies me. (Yes, I know I won't finish a whole sock on one round-trip flight, but that's not the point.)

So I was really left with only one solution. I fought it, I did (not really) but it had to be done.

It's just a toe, but when it grows up it will be a Baudelaire. Finally, after months of thinking about it, I am making them. Such a perfect project for an airplane; small and portable, interesting stitch pattern that requires a bit of focus. And it's so nice to be knitting toe up again. I finished my toe, and then I got to try it on. And it didn't quite fit, so I went up a size. No ripping out and re-casting on, oh no. Just another increase row, and voila. Oh, toe up, how I've missed you. My only problem will be letting that toe sit there un-knit upon until I leave for my trip. See, this is why the sweater may never be finished; too many socks to knit.

I also considered making Eunny Jang's Bayerische Socks; I'm up for a challenge after so much simple knitting. They're absolutely beautiful, and I have a solid yarn that will work well. It took me close to two days to decide, and you know what sealed it? They're cuff down. Don't get me wrong, I'll make them eventually, but two pairs of cuff down in a row might have killed me. Am I such a sock snob? Does everyone else have such strong preferences?

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Knitting Mojo

It's back. I had crazy busy weekend full of family and cooking and chatting and eating, and somehow when it was all over, I had a lot to show for it. This morning I did some short-rowing and some binding off, and ended up with the back of a sweater.

I'll be casting on the front tonight. If I can stop neglecting it for days at a time, it shouldn't take terribly long to finish. It is summer though, and there are long weekends and plane trips in my near future. I am giving myself a pessimistic deadline of the end of July. Maybe I will surprise myself.

The Tofutsies sock and I have also made friends. I stopped fussing, and it stopped protesting, and we are getting along fine now.

I still don't like working cuff down. I still don't particularly like the look of a heel flap. But oh, the fit. Oh. Yes. The perfect little cup around the heel, the super-cushy flap; it all feels so very very nice. It's also so easy to work. I still prefer my short row heels and toes, but I'm feeling a little bit of love for this method now. I also have an urge to try a toe-up gusset and heel flap. Baudelaire, anyone?

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Slow Progress

There's been one more incident of sock ripping since last time. This was a simple mistake knitting the stitch pattern. It happened less than an inch into it, but a didn't discover it until over an inch after that. I really, really didn't want to do it again. So I tried it out on a non-knitter; I showed BBMM one side of the sock, then the other, and asked if he noticed a difference. "You mean that big gnarled thing right in the middle there?" Sigh. I tried tinking back, but it was way too tedious. So one more do-over, and I managed to perfect my cast-on while I was at it. I have now officially knit to the point where I usually rip.

Keep your fingers crossed; the next day or so would appear to be crucial. Maybe it's all the practice, but it's actually knitting really quickly; I only started this version yesterday. Here's a little detail shot, in the closest of all close-ups.

Part of the reason for the quick progress is the complete and total ease of memorizing the pattern. It's a 6 stitch, 2 row repeat. The second row of the repeat is just knit around. I think I had it down by row 10 or so (the first time I knit it). So I can work on it not only on the train, but standing around waiting for the train.

A little more progress on the current sweater, as well. Not much; this is the at-home project, and there hasn't been much time at home lately. But nonetheless:

Past the armholes; I've only got about 5 inches left, then a little short row shaping for the shoulders. The front is the same until the neck split, so that should go quickly. Trust me when I say that this looks much better when stretched out slightly. It will never have hanger appeal, but I think it's going to look great on. I'm hoping for August.

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Socks, Again and Again

The only knitting project I took with me on vacation was a new sock. I had finally found a use for the Tofutsies I bought a few months ago; Quill Lace from Knitty. I had a hard time finding a good pattern for this yarn; it's very thin, and I was getting about 12 stitches per inch in stockinette. Anything looser than that felt too loose for socks. This was only a 6 stitch repeat, so it was easy to get the right circumference.

As you know, I am not a big fan of cuff down socks, but I absolutely loved the lace pattern after swatching it, and it just didn't look right upside down. So I swatched, I loved, but I decided I was not a big fan of the zig zag ruffly top. I swatched some ribbing, decided that a 2x1 rib with 2 purls and one twisted knit stitch was perfect. That's where it all got a little too cute.

I tend to have a problem with cast-ons being too tight. I know that a tubular cast-on is quite stretchy, and I absolutely love the clean look of it. Also, you can thread elastic right through it, which I thought would be great for the Tofutsies, with all the cotton content it has. But of course, a tubular cast-on looks best with a 1x1 rib. I thought (the thinking is where it all tends to go awry) that I could make it work with my 2x1 rib. Normally you cast on 1/2 the total stitches + 1, knit a few rows, then K1, pick up 1 in purl. I thought that I could cast on 2/3 the total stitches + 1, knit a row, K2tog all the way around, then K1, pick up 2 in purl.

This is what I did on the way to Martha's Vineyard. The whole way. And I didn't finish. Remember the whole 12 st/inch thing? Yeah. It was hard. And slow. So that's what I was doing the morning I got busted knitting on vacation; finishing my cast-on. I finished, knit a row in my ribbing, ripped out the provisional cast-on. And it didn't stretch. Really, not at all. So I ripped it. And I laughed at myself a little bit, and decided I would try again with a knit cast-on. Also pretty stretchy, and way, way easier. And when I laughed, BBMM looked at me (his look seemed to imply that he married a madwoman) and said "You are such a perfectionist; how come ripping stuff out never bothers you."

Well that's a stumper, isn't it? My off-the-cuff (tee hee) answer was "Because it can always be reknit." But I've been thinking about it ever since. Is it because knitting is all about the process, not the product? I don't think so. I do love the process, or I wouldn't do it, but I also love finished objects. In fact, I don't have a single UFO that's not being actively worked on. If I don't like something, I rip it out and put it away; nothing sitting on the needles untouched here. I think it goes back to the OCD and perfectionism, actually. I put time into this, and time is the thing most at a premium in my life. I want it to be perfect. And yes, anything that's not quite right can be ripped out and re-done. Perfectly, of course.

So back to the sock; I ripped it gleefully, and started again on the way home. I got this far by Wednesday.

Just long enough to be tried on, so I did. And while the body of the sock fits perfectly, I couldn't get the cast-on over my heel. I stretched, I squirmed, and I couldn't make it happen. I took it to my Wednesday knitting night and asked Elaine whether she thought I could pick out the cast-on an then do a sewn bind-off. (Elaine, incidentally, is my knitting guru. She is sadly blogless, but she is a great knitter, and she must know every technique there is.) Her reply was that of course I COULD, but what a pain in the ass; it would be easier to rip it out and start over. Heh. Well, I fussed, and I stared at it. And suddenly I didn't like the ribbing so much anymore. It made a weird ridge where the pattern started. And maybe the wavy top wouldn't be so bad... So I ripped again. And this time, not only did I not mind it, it thrilled me. It felt liberating.

So the reknitting has begun. I'm only 8 rows in, so not enough for a picture. But we're looking good, and the wavy cuff isn't bothering me. It's not as frilly & girly as I expected. I think this time we will have a winner. And if we don't, well, we all know what will happen.

PS: Miss Violet, from Lime & Violet, left a comment on this post. I feel like a freaking rock star.

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A Knitting Free Vacation (Almost)

When we left for vacation, I was warned that there would be no knitting once we were at our destination. I got to knit in the car, of course, but more on that later.

So they are not knitting related, but wanna see some pretty pictures of Martha's Vineyard?

Gingerbread houses in Oak Bluffs, my favorite town. It's almost otherwordly. The houses look pretty much the same, except for the insane use of color. It made we want to knit in brightly colored things. I promise you though, that I will not knit a sweater with gingerbread houses on it. And I assume I will return to my regularly scheduled neutrals soon.

A view of the Chappy Ferry, taken from the dock in Edgartown. The ferries are fun and all, but why don't they just build a bridge? It seriously take less than a minute to get across...

Chappaquiddick is pretty amazing; virtually deserted, and water everywhere. Of course, it's got a bit of tragedy too...

Dike Bridge, site of the accident that killed Mary Jo Kopechne.

The clay cliffs at Aquinnah, complete with lighthouse. There are very limited tours to the lighthouse, so this is as close as we got.

And for the final coup de grace, we got the best spot on the ferry on the way home.

One morning, I woke up really, really early. While BBMM was in the shower, I thought I could cheat a little. I got busted.

Next time, you'll get to see what I was working on!


Devan and Friends

The whole set is finally done! I finished knitting the hat Friday night, but started working on something else and forgot about it until last night. A few ends to weave in, and it's ready for gifting.

Specs for the whole set below, but first, here's the hat:

And a close-up:

If you haven't already seen them, better shots of the other pieces are here and here.

Pattern: The cardigan is Devan, from Knitty. It's a very easy pattern, entirely stockinette with simple shaping and roll hems. It would be a good pattern for a beginning knitter who's ready to move beyond scarves. The size also makes it knit up very quickly. I used the smallest size; 0-6 months.
The socks are my favorite toe-up basic pattern, but smaller. I used the same rolled hem as the cardigan instead of ribbing at the top. And of course, contrast solid for the toe, heel, and cuff.
For the hat, I was obviously inspired by the Umbilical Cord Hat, but I didn't use a pattern. I just started with I-cord, then increased on the way down.

Yarn and Needles: The jacquard yarn is Regia Silk Colors, 55% merino, 25% nylon, 20% silk. Color 0184 (where's the fun in that?). I used almost exactly two skeins for the set. It is very soft and smooth. It almost glides off the needles, which can be a good or a bad thing, I suppose. It's also spun rightly, so it's not prone to snagging either.
The solid is Opal Sock, 75% wool, 25% nylon, color 1419. It's really just basic sock yarn, maybe a little softer than some. I had a 100 gm skein, and I didn't appear to make a dent. Any 50 gram skein should be plenty.
I used many, many needle sizes. The cardigan was knit on size 3 aluminum straight needles, with the hems on size 2. The looser gauge made the Regia feel extra soft, but it looks like it might pill. The Opal seems, frankly, like it's knit too loosely. The hat was knit on size 2 bamboo DPN's, hems on size 1. Very soft and drapey; great for baby clothes. Too loose for socks though, so those were done on size 0. It doesn't drape as well at this gauge, but somehow the pattern looks better, and the color pops a little more.

If I Could Do It Over: I would pay a bit more attention to my gauge swatches. I tested a lot of different needle sizes for this, but only in the Opal. I switched from a patterned Opal to the Regia after I made the gauge swatches, and i didn't think to check gauge on the new yarn. I should have; the silk makes the Regia a completely different animal. Had a seen how the Regia knit on a 2, I would have adjusted the cardigan pattern for that gauge. I also forgot that babies don't need durable socks (what with the not walking and growing out of things immediately). I should have done those on a 1.
I think I also would have made the hat a little smaller, and a little longer. It seems a little out of proportion to the rest of the set. I might also use 6 increases per round instead of 8; I don't think I like the pumpkin-head look.
Overall though, I'm sure the new mother will be thrilled.

Oh, I am going on vacation, so no post until next week. I have also pledged to keep the knitting under control, so there will not be much progress to report when I get back. I am still trying to decide whether to mention that Saturday is World Wide Knit in Public Day...


I Slipped

About a year ago, I got a set of light-up knitting needles. I used them to make a baby blanket, and when I finished, I lost one of them. I noticed it was missing sometime during the winter. Yesterday, I found it.

I think I dropped it in the snow, and the plow got it.

Not that it matters, but I never found the tip...

I found something else though. It caught my eye and I had to pick it up.

Mountain Colors Bearfoot, Yellowstone colorway. That's pretty close to the real color.; it's maybe a little darker in person. BBMM and I spent an extra hour in the car today so I could get sock yarn (he is a patient man) and I'm glad we did. It's really, really soft. It's tightly spun, so stitches are going to show up beautifully. You know how when you first get off a diet, food tastes really, really good? Works for yarn too.