Sunday, September 30, 2007

Contest Almost Over!

Just a quick reminder. If you have donated to the Red Scarf Fund, let me know within the next 2 plus hours and I'll add you into the mix from which I will pull a winner for the skein of Handmaiden SeaSilk and copy of the Victorian Lace Today book prize.

Here it is again to refresh your memory and entice you to consider donating if you haven't already.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Let's Do The Time Warp Again

Ok, I knew something strange was happening with post dates. Apparently Blogger is using the date a post is initiated rather than published for the date it uses. So much for being clever and working ahead of where the knitting has actually gotten to. I found it motivating a bit too so I will have to find a work around I think.

It's the 21st at 9PM now and I have one completed sock for the Summer of Socks 2007 which ends tonight at midnight. Sorry about the somewhat clashing colored pant leg. But trust me, that's better than the blinding white of my bare leg.

Pattern: Wendy's Sportweight Toe-up Gusset Heel Sock
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport in Icehouse bought at The Loopy Ewe

In addition to the warping of space-time, there's something else very odd going on with these socks in the first three dimensions. The socks fit very nicely although they do seem to be a bit stretched in that ribbing I added. Still, the resultant fabric feels nice to me, and the socks are comfy on, and not difficult to get on either.

But, the maths don't seem to be in the right ball park. I was supposed to get 6.5 stitches/in and appear to have gotten closer to 8 stitches per inch. Yet the sock, which was supposed to end up at 8" with the 6.5 stitches/inch gauge, fits my 8.5" circumference foot just fine without any change is number of stitches. Also, the knitted sock contains only 36 grams of yarn according to my kitchen scale (which is probably supposed to be accurate to at least 2 grams) and there are 33 grams left in the yarn cake. Implying that at a minimum I could get a pair of anklets out of one skein of the Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport. I'm going to see what I get with the second sock, but so far I can't help but think I've done something not quite right. It certainly seems like I should have used more yarn than that. Still, I seem to be able to get socks fairly fast this way as long as I spend my knitting time on them so I might have to try again once I get the second sock of this pair done.

Of course there's no way I'm gonna manage to get a second sock knit in the 3 hours remaining to me in the Summer of Socks. But since, the Summer of Socks rules say "end on September 21st (the autumn equinox)" while this site says that the Naval Observatory says that the Autumnal Equinox is actually on the 23rd at 1:51am my time, I'm gonna count the second sock in my own personal Summer of Socks if I manage to get done by 1:50am on 9/23. Which, now that I have discovered that spending time knitting on your sock makes it get longer, might actually happen. Ok, realistically, no it won't because I think it still took several hours to get half a sock done. And I would have to knit a whole sock in under 27 hours. And I know I have to sleep in there somewhere. But I'm still gonna work on it a bit along with the hat this weekend and see how far I can get.

Sadly the hat didn't even get a look-in I was too interested in my sock. The weather turned a bit cool this week and for the first couple of days it was "refreshing" but after that it was "why don't I have any nice warm socks!" and "where the heck did I pack away my winter pants?" The socks I'm working on. But the winter pants are still eluding me.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Getting down to the wire...

Well, the Summer of Socks - for which I signed up in a fog of optimism as regards the amount of time available for, and speed of, my knitting - ends Friday. I did finish a pair of socks after the Summer of Socks started. But since I started them in March I don't think they count. So far, I've got one of my Wendy's Sportweight Toe-up Gusset Heel socks through the heel turn and a row or two up the leg. Not that it looks like it's up the leg yet of course. But it is, two whole rows at least. I swear.

Maybe, just maybe, if I can get stuck somewhere with my knitting, and not have taken the French Market Bag like I did today, I might be able to finish this sock and maybe, just maybe, (if the planets align just right and the knitting fairy comes to visit at night tonight and tomorrow) I might even get the second one done in time too.* I'm gonna try. It's a real deadline. It might work. I hope so. Otherwise I'll feel such a fraud for signing up in the first place.

In the opposing forces (or possibly just "I'm an idiot") section of the blog: My daughter's classroom aide is pregnant and I foolishly said I would knit a hat for the baby-girl-to-be if my daughter wanted to dye the yarn for it so that it would be both our efforts. Of course she did want to. So we did food color microwave dyeing on Sunday and the skein was finally dry enough to wind today. I think it looks very pretty in an exuberant sort of way. But very girl baby. I hope it will knit up pretty.
I like it even better wound up.

DD did all the dye direction (what colors where) although I did do the actual dripping of food color onto the skein and provided advice about getting it all the way through. I'm not sure what day I thought it was when we planned a schedule, or how long I thought the yarn would take to dry, but when I said I'd knit it I said I thought I could get it done for her to give the aide on Friday (that would be the day after tomorrow at this point).

So tomorrow, I need to knit 1.5 socks and a baby hat while also running a bazillion errands including the weekly grocery store expedition. Oh, yeah, I'll make all my deadlines. No problem.* I'd slap my palm into my face except I hit my forehead on a shelf corner a couple of days ago and it still is a bit tender.

*Why yes, now that you mention it, I have always been delusional.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

the current state of affairs and a theory

The tally since last time is, one finished Red Red Scarf, Serious Stash Enhancement, a foot of a sock, a bit of a cuff of another sock, and lastly, the pattern, yarn, and needle finally decided on for a second shawl for my Auntie in England.

First up, the Red Red Scarf (don't forget to donate to the Red Scarf Fund and tell me you did to get entered in my little contest for the lovely Handmaiden Sea Silk and Victorian Lace Today book) which looks just like the Gray Red Scarf except for actually being Red. And being knit in doubled "Aran" weight (which didn't look like aran weight to me) instead of a real bulky weight yarn. I wouldn't do that again, btw. I spent so much time untwisting the two balls (still not sure how they got twisted either) that I could probably have just knit it single and used more stitches and not had it take too long to finish in time. Live and learn. Anyway, here it is modeled by my super model.
Red Scarf knit in a 3x3 rib alternated every 3 rows to prevent draw in using two strands of Rowan Classic Yarns' Cashsoft Aran in "Poppy" knit on a size 11 circular needle.

Serious stash enhancement has also occurred since last post. Last weekend was the anniversary of my birth so my mum gave me some money I could use for whatever I wanted as my birthday gift. (Here's a question, shouldn't I be paying her, not the other way around?) Naturally I spent it on stash enhancement. I spent it more than once, frankly. The thing is, when she gives me a check for my birthday I often find myself conveniently forgetting that I already thought "Oh I can get that with my birthday money" on an earlier occasion. Something about yarn fumes that transcends even the Internet. So, I probably ended up spending it locally as well as at the Loopy Ewe. But who can blame me really?

After all, one of the localish LYSs around here was having its annual sale. So of course I had to go. And they were having a trunk show of Habu yarns and kits and a talk by Takako Ueki, the owner of Habu Textiles, on how to read Japanese patterns. So naturally I had to attend. It was a very interesting talk. Both scary and inspiring at the same time in a way. Like I imagine standing at the top of a cliff in a hang glider ready to make your first glide might feel. I'm alternating between now thinking I can do a whole lot more and being afraid of the possibilities almost. It could be incredibly freeing if I could just get myself to embrace that freedom. It's a pity I'm not braver. I must work on that.

If you get a chance I highly recommend attending that talk. It was so interesting that naturally, I had to buy some Habu. I fell hard for a jacket kit. So I said "Thank you Mummy" (and hubby and daughter and...) and I bought it.

And then Sheri did a sneak up and put up the Perchance to Knit yarns. And I got this:
and this:

Thanks Mummy! Oops. Oh well. With luck I will manage to get something that is on the needles done before I start the Habu jacket. Although, it would be a perfect fall jacket for here I think. Drat... Must resist startitis... And the Perchance to Knit yarns are so nice that I'd really like to start a sock with them too soon. Must resist startitis...

I got more knitting done than just the scarf since I last posted although not as much as I'd have liked. I got the foot done on the first of my Wendy's Sportweight Sock despite the fact that I ended up having to tink back because I had gone further than I should have for the point to start the heel. Actually, I ripped back part of that, taking my courage in both hands and pulling out all the needles and pulling out at least 8 rows of work before picking the stitches back up again. I was amazed but it actually worked.

I also had to drop down some purl stitches and bring them back up as knits. I had popped in a little ribbing on the sides (6 stitches total in 1x1 rib on each side of the instep instead of stockinette like the rest of the sock) to snug it up a bit. But I ended up having to drop some of them down and switch it back to stockinette because my foot gets bigger around toward the heel despite the fact that looking top down it actually narrows quite a lot as it goes back. Live and learn. So in this photo it looks a little funky on the sides there, but I think that the first wash will smooth that all out just fine. Now I just need to write down what I ended up with for the snugging up ribbing that remained so that I can make the other sock match.

Wendy's Sportweight Toe-up Gusset Heel Sock in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport in Icehouse knit on size 2 wooden DPNs.

I also managed to get a couple of repeats done on the cuff for the August RSC socks but I don't think it looks like enough to blog about yet. I hope next time to have more done so that a photo would actually be interesting.

My other accomplishment, such as it is, this last week or so is picking the pattern, yarn and needle to use for the next shawl for my Auntie in England. I picked the yarn first, deciding to go with my mum's theory that cashmere would be good. So I chose Handmaiden 2-ply Cashmere in Marine. There were about 3 other patterns I was considering but the one I finally decided on was The Forest Canopy Shawl by Susan Lawrence. Since I wanted this to be a warm shawl for the winter and she's my absolute favorite Auntie and worth two skeins of 2-ply Cashmere if necessary I decided to go with the Forest Canopy Shawl since I think the pattern is slightly more closed than some of the other options so it will be warmer. But the pattern lookd like it is easy enough for me to get it done relatively expeditiously. Much more so than my initial desire to create my own pattern for the shawl. (Over-reach much?) Still, despite finally deciding on everything, I haven't gotten far enough yet for a photo to be worth it, but I think I will be able to post a progress photo within a week that will look like something. It took me an awfully long time to make all those decisions.

Which brings me to my current theory: Cassie of Too Much Wool had a fun post the other day about start-itis that got me thinking about why I don't get much done. Partly, it's just because I don't spend enough time knitting to get things done quickly. I started trying to think of ways to get more knitting time without everything else I'm juggling coming to a screaming halt. But, I couldn't really figure out where I had spare time I wasn't using wisely (except maybe web browsing time - heh). Then I had a mini-epiphany of sorts, it's not just a lack of time, it's also that I spend too much of the knitting time I do have in thinking and planning and futzing about. Trying to get the perfect combination of yarn and pattern. Trying to get gauge perfectly. Trying to choose the perfect next project. It took some thinking about it to realize that it was basically a perfectionism problem. Which is kinda funny considering how awful some aspects of my knitting look.

The proof is in what does get done. My projects that have been completed (well, the ones done in a more timely manner anyway) were all deadline knitting. I needed it done for a particular day for example. Like DD's poncho for Christmas last year. Or the Spring Things Shawl (except I actually missed the deadline for that one but I was far enough along that I kept keeping it active) this spring. Or the Red Scarf knitting. With a deadline I had to give up on "perfect" and go for "good enough".

But artificially imposing deadlines on myself doesn't seem to work very well. Even external ones that are "soft" like "the new RSC kit is coming soon so I have to get to work on the ones that aren't done yet" don't get me going.

I gotta figure out how to fix this problem because my yarn acquisition rate and project finding rate are still far out-pacing my yarn usage and project completion rates. I decided to devote the rest of September to working on the whole perfectionism thing. For example, last weekend, instead of rushing out to the LYS Saturday to pick up a ball of yarn I needed to finish the Red Red Scarf, the store I was going to be in anyway on the Sunday for the Habu trunk show and talk, I picked up my simple sportweight socks and got the foot done on those. Although again with the perfectionism and "correcting" the initial ribbing. I also figured out what I needed to do to get "close enough" to gauge on the August RSC socks (within the difference between my feet anyway) so managed to get those properly started. And I frogged the swatch for DD's tank because the fabric wasn't even close enough, let alone perfect.

Speaking of Perfect:
I'm so proud. That's my little girl. What you can't get from the still is just how fast those needles were flying. She still won't do more than knit. She's not ready for purl and she only did the needle manipulation of the long tail cast on for that headband not the left hand yarn manipulation half. But she's getting there. And for the few minutes a week when she is knitting, the needles are flying. Of course her attention span is shorter than mine so she doesn't knit for long before she gets bored. So it's gonna take a while for her to finish that headband. But she's only 8 so that's ok really. I'll be in trouble when she hits double digits and I end up being the one with the shorter attention span.


I left something out of last night's post. Since I was talking about my scarves for the Red Scarf Project I meant to remind anyone reading that if you make a donation to the Red Scarf Fund (there's a paypal button on the right sidebar near the bottom) not only can you tell Norma and she'll enter you in a contest on her blog but you can also tell me and I'll enter you in my own little reward contest for the following lovely prize:
A copy of Victorian Lace Today and a skein of Handmaiden Sea Silk to knit something from the book with.

I know I just mentioned it a couple of posts ago but I think it bears repeating anyway.

Norma has a super easy button on her main blog and on the Red Scarf Project page for making a donation. Or you can go to the link to the OFA's page that I gave above and use there button. (I couldn't figure out how Norma did her button quick enough or I'd do one too.)

Ok, back to work.

ETA: Double Doh! I forgot to repeat how to tell me you donated. As I mentioned a few posts back, mention you've donated either in the comments somewhere or by e-mail to raspberry *AT* gmail *DOT* com (everyone knows how to fix the address right? Probably even the address harvesting bots do by now.)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

and the winner of the award for...

Most Tolerant Spouse Of A Yarn Hoarder is... My hubby. Who not only went with me to Ikea, but also when the subject was broached, behaved as though it was perfectly sensible to buy a glass display case to store yarn in, bought said case, and put it together and in place that same night. And spent the next night redoing displaced wall mounted things for me so I could take and post this photo.

Yes, I do know how lucky I am. No that isn't all of my stash (that's a bit embarrassing actually). It is a big percentage. The bottom two shelves are all sock yarns. More than half of that (possibly a great deal more than half) is Sheri's fault. Her shop, The Loopy Ewe, is a lovely place to deal with - so helpful. But I warn you, it is dangerously tempting all the time. She will keep finding beautiful new yarns and selling them to me. I think that means I get to blame her at least a little for the size of that stash right? Ok, truth will out: I have way more time for buying yarn than I do for knitting it up, and no will power. Too embarrassing, lets move on. The top shelf is some of my special spinning fibers. Again with the not all of them though caveat. (More embarrassment. Let's keep on moving on.)

I haven't gotten any further really on the August RSC socks. I continue to battle gauge problems with the RSC patterns it seems. But I did finish the first of (I hope) two scarves for the Red Scarf Project. Only I need a bit of advice. As you can see, modeled by my sweet puppy (and in close up - an attempt to show the pattern and yarn a bit better) it isn't red. The actual color is closest in the photo with the dog (Yes, I am planning to wash the scarf before sending it. And on warning the recipient it was knit in a house with a dog.) Or in the small shadowed part in the close up photo.

Initially I had planned to over-dye the yarn in the skein but then I had some knitting time without any dyeing time ahead of it. So I knit first. Now I'm wondering if I should leave it gray, which I think I read is supposed to be an "in" color this year, or over-dye it. It wouldn't have to be over-dyed red of course. I was thinking blue might work better. Any votes one way or another on the over-dye idea? Color specific suggestions?

I have already started a second scarf using two strands of Rowan Cashsoft Aran in an emphatic red (darker and richer than this photo is displaying - on my screen at least - it's shade 010 aka Poppy for any who care).

I'm knitting the same pattern (I decided on basically a k3p3 rib for three rows followed by three rows of p3k3 so that it makes regular blocks of knit and purls with two extra stitches to provide a stitch to slip at the beginning so the edge will be nicer than my normal one) as I did on the gray scarf because it's easy to remember (especially after having done 6 feet of it) but still looks a bit interesting even though it's so simple. I'm pretty sure I'll be able to get this one done in time too. The Cashsoft sure does feel nice. I might have to get some more in a me color. Maybe even enough for a knock-about sweater.