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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

Slow Thursday

I have so very, very little to report. The BBMM sock 2 is moving along, but how many pictures do you really want to see of the foot of a boring sock? That's what I thought. The not-socks are progressing, but I don't want to reveal that until I have something recognizable to show, and I'm just not there yet. I've also been working on another top-secret project, but it's really just chunks of yarn and scribbles at the moment, and duh, it's top secret!

So I thought I'd show you my stash. To me, this is shocking; when I took it all out to take the picture I nearly died. I know to some of you this is laughably small, but I would like you to keep in mind that I have been knitting for less than 4 years, and I didn't get crazy about it for a year or so. Also, this stash does not include any sock yarn. It also doesn't include about a dozen balls of Bernat Satin that I bought for an ill-conceived and barely started baby gift. I keep that in a separate place, so I didn't think to include them in the photo.

That's a whole lotta wool, yes? Here's the thing; until last year I didn't have a stash. That's not exactly true, but what I had I was able to keep in a shopping bag. One shopping bag. Then there were these two sales...

The first was the Suss closing sale, accounting for the pile on the left. Suss had two stores; an LA and a NY, and they closed the NY store last year. Everything was either 75% off (for Suss yarns) or 50% off (for everything else). It was a strange experience for me; I went one night after work and tried to hold back, but still purchased a giant shopping bag full of yarn; mostly Suss cotton, a nubby worsted weight. I bought a sweater's worth of a beautiful deep red, and scattered skeins of brown, beige and teal, thinking I would do a striped cabled V neck or something. I also bought the Araucania Nature cotton that I used for the Nature Cable cardigan. The next day I decided it would be silly to not stock up at these prices, so I went back. The place was pretty picked clean, and I had a total panic attack, snatching up things I will probably never use. I bought a couple random skeins of lace weight mohair, which I still can't find a purpose for. Some black Suss Alpaca, which I used for a hat and gloves for myself. Two skeins of Suss Alpaca Tweed, one of which I used for fingerless gloves. Six CONES of a lightweight thick & thin cotton; I can't even fathom what I would ever use it for.

The second was Smiley's once-a-year Manhattan yarn sale. It's held in a hotel ballroom, and yarn is available only by the bag; most bags are 10 skeins, so usually enough for a sweater. This is the pile of bags in the middle of the picture. It was there that a bought the Filatura Lanarota Summer Soft that I used for The Slink. Also from there; a bag of charcoal gray alpaca which I love, but it's small yardage, so maybe not enough for a sweater. A bag of a beige linen blend, which I'll use for a summer project residing in my head. A bag of black Bernat Lana; 100% merino in gigantic skeins, I'll get the Bob Dobbs from Domknitrix for BBMM, as well as a sweater (a hoodie maybe?) for myself out of it. Two bags of a tweedy wool in the most beautiful deep red, and an ocean blue (no plans for these yet).

The pile on the right is the rest of the stash. In defense, this is almost entirely either leftovers from other projects, or yarn that was somehow free. This pile doesn't hurt me so much, although I have GOT to find a purpose for the 8 hanks of leftover Cascade 220.

So like the rest of the knitting world, I put myself on the January yarn diet. You might say to yourself "Self, yarnmule sure seems to buy a lot of yarn for someone on a yarn diet". You would be totally right about that, but every diet has built in cheats, rights? Mine were easy:

1. Sock yarn is OK. In January I owned enough sock yarn for one pair, which I had already started. It became clear that I was not going to wait another year to knit more socks, so I gave myself that. Sock yarn has recently become not so OK though; the flash-buy of the Tofutsies, The Ugly, which I now have 800 yards of, plus the remaining Kroy; 2 pairs worth. I've got to be done with that for a while as well. I think two more pairs after the BBMM socks, then I can get more.
2. Gift yarn. Meaning yarn to knit gifts with, not yarn to give myself as a gift. That would be wrong. Yummy, but wrong.
3. If I start a project, I can buy yarn to finish.

So far, it's the end of April, and I have followed the rules. It's been hard though, and not even because I like shopping. I feel like it's stifling the creativity. I can't just find project, love it, buy the yarn for it and go. Nope, it's find a project, dig through the stash, see if I can get gauge, and if not find something else to knit.

Because of this, I'm changing the rules. My birthday is in July; if I can make it until then, I can buy yarn for one project. Also, if I make it through half the stash before the end of the year, diet is over, limits are lifted, dream projects will be created. That second part seems highly unlikely, especially with the current sock obsession, but you never know.

I really enjoy making up my own rules as I go along. I may try it in other areas of my life.

Incidentally, I am going away for the weekend, and will have many, many hours of car time. If all goes according to plan, I will be far enough along to reveal the not-socks by next week. Until then, have a lovely weekend!


That's Better

I officially ran out of yarn for BBMM's first sock on Friday, so I decided to cast on for the not-socks. I spent about 10 minutes knitting with The Ugly, and decided it just wouldn't do. A quick trip to my favorite LYS, and I came home with the perfect thing.

The blue in the jacquard portion matches perfectly with the solid that I already have. It's also more appropriate for the thing I'm making, and it's softer than what I had before. This is Regia Silk print sock yarn. I spent one afternoon knitting with it, and I am now dreaming of a wardrobe of silk-blend socks.

That's not a picture of a gauge swatch, by the way. It's a real live piece of knitting, finished and waiting on a holder. Once I have something recognizable I'll spill the beans about what I'm working on, but not quite yet. Perhaps the size of it can be your third clue...

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Spring Has Sprung

The Slink is ready to wear at the perfect time of year.

It looks like spring, doesn't it? I like this sweater. A lot. All of the things I couldn't figure out about it made perfect sense once I put it on. There are detail shots in the Gallery; BBMM gets credit for the photography.

Pattern: The Slink, from Domiknitrix. I followed the pattern exactly, using the smallest size and the shorter length. Just yummy, yummy stuff. It was great simple knitting, while not as boring as plain stockinette. So many of the pattern details are just brilliant. The ribbing pulls in the waist with no shaping or short rows. The cute cap sleeves are knit directly onto the armholes with short rows and decreases, and they are shaped perfectly.
The yarn I used is very different than what is called for in the pattern, but both my stitch and row gauge matched perfectly, so I didn't need to adjust for that at all.
The body of this is very simple; the ribbing is a 6 row repeat, and the only shaping is for the armholes and neck. It was quick, simple, delightful movie-watching knitting. I finished, Kitchenered the side seam, and did the sleeves. For some reason, I could not comprehend how they were going to work. Between the picking up, short rows, decreases, working only the top half of the sleeve, and working side-to-side, I was just baffled. The directions weren't really difficult, it just isn't the "standard" way of doing things. It took until halfway through the first sleeve before I realized what was going on. Then, of course, it all seemed brilliant.
The hems are simple, but not standard. Again, easy to work with a detailed result.
Oh, and I was right about the pattern errata; she e-mailed back this weekend with the change. I fixed it differently than what she recommended, but it still worked fine. And she's sending me a tee for finding it!

Yarn & needles: Filatura Lanarota Summer Soft, 60% rayon 40% acrylic, color #221, 6 skeins. This is from my stash; I had a bag of 10. If I had to name the color, it would be Stormy Sky. The yarn was very easy to knit; there are many extremely thin plies, so I did snag a ply pretty frequently, but they pulled back in with ease. One strange thing about the yarn; it is completely different after it's washed. I knit a gauge swatch with a few different size needles, washed it, and settled on a size 6. While knitting on this size needle, the fabric felt really stiff, thick, and unyielding, almost like cardboard. After it's washed, it completely relaxes; it's still firmly knit, but it's soft and drapey, and almost feels like a lighter weight.

If I could do it over: I don't think I would change a thing. I generally would never knit the same garment twice, but I think I would with this one. The engineering is so intriguing to me that I'd love to see what would happen in a completely different yarn; I could see myself doing another one in the glittery yarn the author recommends.


Sock Madness

I've been working exclusively on the BBMM socks this week, and I have made some progress.

I'm about an inch beyond the heel turn on Sock 1, and a few inches past the toe on Sock 2. Sock 2 is now subway knitting, while Sock 1 watches TV with me in the evenings. Sock 2 is happy with this arrangement; he is new to the world, and eager to get out and explore. Sock 1, however, is perhaps tired of his captivity, and is protesting. Despite my care (and my many, many lifelines) he simply does not want to be finished. Witness this temper tantrum:

Yes, I know, I shouldn't blame the sock. It's really my own fault for not thinking about the mass quantities of yarn needed for a size 11 man's sock. Sigh. I'm not quite sure what to do about it; I ordered the yarn from Herrschner's, and they won't even attempt to match dye lots. I can send them a swatch of the yarn, and they will look for something close, but how long do you suppose that will take? Does anyone know of a yarn store in NYC, Jersey, or anywhere near here that carries a good selection of Paton's Kroy? If I don't find another skein soon, I'll have to stop working on Sock 1, and who knows what it will do to me then!

On the Slink front, it is dry as of Wednesday, and ready for its closeup. Sadly, BBMM hasn't been around to take glamour shots, and there has also been a distinct lack of sunlight. Saturday is looking sunny and bright, so look for another post this weekend!

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Poor Little Camera

I actually do have progress to report, just nothing to show. I finished the Slink on Sunday, and it's blocking. With the torrential downpour we had yesterday, and continuing rain today, it is taking a looooong time to dry. Hopefully I'll have some glamour shots tomorrow or Wednesday. I did write to Domiknitrix about the possible errata, but have not heard back yet, other than a clarification about the size I was knitting.

The finishing on that sweater was beastly, surprising after how easily it knit. I ended up hauling out reference books to clarify directions on short rows and Kitchener. I will give a gigantic shout-out to the Sensational Knitted Socks book while I'm at it. This book has the absolute best instructions for finishing details I have ever read. It may be just the way my brain works, but Charlene Schurch's Kitchener description makes it so easy for me. And her little details about picking up short-row wraps create a perfect finished product.

Speaking of socks, I am on a mission to jump-start BBMM's Globetrotter socks, since I have a bit of between-project time. After a quick try-on tonight, I'm ready for the heel of the first one. I've also started the toe of the second; it's short-row madness around here. I don't know why I think I can knit two socks at once, but apparently I do.

Oh, I do have one photo for you, but it isn't pretty...

This is my gauge swatch for the not-socks (no, I am NOT telling!). Am I wrong, or is it completely hideous? I am hoping that it will be better when it's got more width to narrow the stripes, and when it's paired with the solid. I am not optimistic.

The Postman Rang, But Only Once

Presents in the mail!

1275 meters of fingering weight goodness. Anybody want to guess what it's for? Uh, no, not socks. That would be a bit too easy, don't you think? Two hints: it will be a gift, and the color is a clue (I am not allowed to knit myself anything with turquoise in it for a while. I will admit that I have a limited color palette in my wardrobe, but enough on the turquoise).

Whatever it is, I won't be getting started for a while. It doesn't need to be ready until late July, and shouldn't take too long to do. I want to finish the Slink before I start on this one.

I have hit a snag on the Slink, by the way. I tried to take a picture, but it's dark and rainy out, so you know. If you recall, the waistline is done in a purl ribbing, like this:

Notice that each rib has two purl rows. Mmm hmmm. The center front of the sweater has a section that is straight stockinette, then the purl ribs resume again. I got the center front done, did a few rows on the ribbing, and realized that my first rib has only one purl row. What's up with that? I'm fairly certain that it is the pattern and not me, but how on earth could nobody have noticed this?

It's going to be a fairly easy fix; tink the ribbing (I only did about 4 rows before I noticed), plus one extra row, then add the first purl row in at the beginning of the repeat. Still, I'm irked. The back of this thing seemed like pure genius, but this is the second thing on the front that I don't like. I'm going to e-mail the author in case I am just an idiot, or am reading the pattern wrong. I won't be waiting for a response to fix it, but I am interested in what she has to say. Hopefully she won't be telling me that I am functionally illiterate.

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Slinking Right Along

OK, I admit that to the casual observer it may look like a blue blob. But if you are a knitter, and you look closely, it may magically begin to look like a sweater! Most of that is the back (now complete). The bunched up bits are the beginnings of a front.

By the end of this evening, I should be halfway through the front. I have discovered the one thing I don't love about this pattern though. See that jog at the side seam? Where the waist ribbing suddenly drops by ten stitches? (Come on, click the picture; you know you want to.) Why did she do that? Why not step it down gradually, so it's less of a cliff? I thought about working it that way, but it would have involved re-calculating the last fifteen or so rows at the end, and I wasn't sure if the shaping would work around the bust. So I left it. I did notice that they are very careful not to show the side seams in the book. Harumph.

Oh, I did change one thing about the way I was knitting this. Notice the stitches all bunched up on a straight needle? The annoying click-clack of the metal circular was driving BBMM nuts. I suddenly remembered I had these.

These were a gift from BBMM two Christmas' ago, yet this is the first time I've used them (not because I didn't want to, I just went on a circular binge for a while there). They're pretty wonderful; incredibly sharp, sculpted tips, perfect for the splitty yarn I'm using. Nice and smooth polish, but with the little bit of grip that makes me love wood & bamboo needles. Plus, aren't they purty? BBMM doesn't much like the knitting, but he's good enough to enable it anyway. It is one of many reasons that he will be able to request handmade items at will, for as long as we both shall live.


We Interrupt This Sweater...

Sometimes, you take a break from one craft with another.

I hate sewing, I really do. But I've been meaning to go pick up smaller sizes of the Prym DPN's, and I realized that they are not size-marked in any way. I thought that trying to differentiate between size 0, 00, and 000 by eye was not going to be fun or easy, so I decided to make a case; store the needles by size, and get rid of some clutter in the process. I used some denim, binding, ribbon and buttons I had laying around, and voila!

I took the easy way out and just wrote sizes on the ribbon. I did make sure the pen was waterproof, but somehow I'm guessing this may not be the most long-lasting solution.

It's pretty cute though, and effective, and it took me all of three hours. Most importantly, I am now free to acquire more sock-knitting equipment!

This was merely a brief break in the knitting. I am making heavy progress on The Slink, and should be able to show off something meaningful by the end of the weekend.

EDIT: If anyone is interested in the (easy) pattern for this, let me know in comments. If there's enough interest I'll write it up and post it.

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Truly Madly Deeply

This one is going to be a winner. I know, one should not judge when one is a mere 6 inches into the knitting, but lemme tell you something; the force is strong with this one. She is speaking to me. She is literally flying off the needles. I can't even believe how quickly it's going; I started on Saturday, ripped and restarted on Sunday afternoon* , and lookie where she is!

OK, so maybe it doesn't seem quite so impressive to the casual viewer, but I do have a job, you know.

The pattern is The Slink from Domiknitrix and oh, what a joy to knit. It's a brilliant pattern; she tries to avoid seams as much as I do; I would rather Kitchener until my hand falls off than do mattress stitch. So the beginning side seam is cast on provisionally, and will later be grafted to the other side seam. All the shaping on the body is done with stitch pattern, which pulls in the waist, and frankly saves this from being a stockinette boredom beast. It's a 6 row repeat of nothing but straight knit and purl, so it's perfect for a night of say, watching the Mets kick butt in the season opener.

The only thing that's bothering me is this; it seems oddly familiar. You know, knit side to side. A nice turquoise/aqua color. Hmmm. I fear I may be falling into a funk. A hand-knit, side to side, turquoise funk. Next sweater, I'm going back to the neutrals that I so love...

*There's this thing I apparently like to do called "pretending I am not a short person". It involves starting a sweater long, because I don't want it to show my stomach. Then, hopefully quickly, I'll hold it up and realize that my belly and my knees are pretty far apart, and there's a lot of middle ground, and yes, I really could afford to get rid of that extra 6 inches or so. In the case of the Nature Cable sweater, let's just say that the "roll hem" is very, very bulky. In this case, I called a mulligan.


No More Seams

The Nature Cable sweater is complete! It's certainly not my favorite FO ever, but it's not too bad. The armholes are a little wonky; I made the sweater a smidge tighter than I should have, so the batwing sleeve just causes a bulge. I think once the sweater grows (and it's cotton, so it will) it will be better. All the "waist shaping" was done during blocking, the body is really just a box. The best part, of course, is the cabling.

The cuff was added on after; I ran a bit short on the sleeve, so I made cuffs that matched the neckline. Another thing that's just slightly wonky.

Pattern: A freebie from elann.com, with drastic modifications, mostly because of my yarn choice. I couldn't match both stitch and row gauge. I decided that since this is knit side-to-side, row gauge was more important. This meant I added 8 extra stitches when I cast on for the body. I also made the neck opening about 2 inches narrower than called for. I reversed the cable direction past the neckline so it was symmetrical. The pattern called for a few rows of ribbing at each sleeve, but that was pretty unattractive in this yarn. Instead, I started knitting straight stockinette, and later added the cuffs.

Yarn & needles: Araucania Nature Cotton, 100% cotton, color # 27, 9 skeins. This is a naturally-dyed yarn, so it's it's a single variegated color; the end product looks almost tie dyed. I generally don't like knitting with cotton, but this stuff is lovely. It's very soft, almost fluffy at the thicker parts, so it has a lot of give. It looked extremely pebbly when I was knitting, but it relaxed a bit when i washed it. I used size 10 needles everywhere.

If I could do it over: Oh so many things would change. I grabbed this pattern and yarn at the last minute before a weekend trip. I didn't really think it through; just saw that the gauges might match and went for it. That was kind of a bad idea. The pattern is not something I would normally choose to knit; flat with lots of seaming, and nothing really interesting and challenging. Lots of stockinette with the occasional cable or increases. The yarn and the pattern don't really go together, and some of the resizing I had to do didn't work out tremendously well. Again, it may get better if it stretches. Basically it's not bad enough to frog, but not good enough to wear out of the house.