Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Toast!

A toast to MS3 & Collective Knowledge Between Knitters!

Thank you thank you thank you everyone to the advice about my too-short sock ribbing. As little as I was favoring the idea of unpicking that persnickety cast-on edge, even **less** was I favoring the idea of unraveling the entire sock and starting over.

No, that's not quite accurate - in fact that wasn't even an option as far as I was concerned.

But to hear that I had an even easier option - to snip a stitch one row below the cast-on, unravel, slip exposed stitches to my circs, and then just start knitting? BRILLIANCE.

And that is exactly what I shall do, once I'm finished decreasing down along the gusset of the sock (which is where my progress currently is on said knitted item) and finished with the foot and finished with the toe decrease and the kitchener graft.

Hip! Hip! Hooray! Hip! Hip! Hooray!

I get to spend the next six days out of the office and with the Munchkin - daycare is closed as she's taking a vacation up to see her family and so I get to spend some fun Mommy/Munchkin days at home, roaming town, taking in the zoo, hitting the beach, etc. I'm looking forward to it (altho' I should probably warn my husband that on Monday or Tuesday it's almost certain that I might need to go out & drink at least one cup of coffee on my own just to get a break in there somewhere! The nonstop questioning of a 2-year old can drive even the most saintly to start daydreaming about the financial viability of adding at least one soundproof room to the current layout of their house... )

While I am doing all of the fun Mommy stuff - making muffins, playing playdough, using my son as a perfect excuse to buy some Boardwalk Fries while we are down at the beach, etc. I shall also be working not only on the previously-mentioned Sockpal sock (I'm hoping to have it done before the end of next week) but I shall also be knitting away on the First Clue of Mystery Stole!

What is Mystery Stole, you ask? I cannot explain it nearly as well as Melanie can - so I'll simply point you in the right direction, urge you all to sign up, and show you my current progress to date:

These are my two MS3 swatches that I finished knitting just this very afternoon.
(Ever block a lace swatch on your office chair? No??? You should - go on - don't be afraid!)

After some pondering & some friendly consultation, I have decided in favor of the swatch on the left - which was knitted with:

.....this oh-so-lovely and HEAVENLY soft skein of Lane Borgoseia Cashwool that I ordered from The Loopy Ewe. This was my first time ever ordering from the Loopy Ewe & it was lovely and everything that everyone has raved about. I might have found my permanent online store from here on out, methinks...................

Like to see that incredible softness again?????

I'm so loving the colour I chose!

The swatch I'm choosing was knitted on size 4's - my new Crystal Palace circs, no less. Again, a splurge from the Ewe. I went with the Crystal Palace ones because the yarn was so happily inexpensive - 1400 yards of glowing "Pearl" laceweight (100% merino - Italian merino!) for only $14. Talk about a steal!

I had been anxiously awaiting my order since about, oh, 5 seconds after I placed it - and by Tuesday night I just **knew** that it should be waiting at the house. So I asked Peggers when he went home (I work Tuesdays until 9 PM) to please call me as soon as the package arrived. No call. I got home and was seriously bummed - all we had apparently gotten was some junkmail and a bill.

So I soldiered on as best I could Tuesday night, working away on my Sockpal sock, while the boys slept all around me:

In a move that should shock no-one, the dog fell asleep first.

Peggers was next. (Hmmmm....think we need a bigger couch? The man is 6'4" - that's TALL, folks!)

And giving in to peer pressure, Ella (one of two felines in the house) finally allowed herself to doze off a bit.

It was only the next morning when I went out into the front perennial bed to cut some flowers for a friend of mine that I turned around and found this on my front steps - where the postman had cleverly hid it behind a large potted trailing rosemary and some elephant ears!


So the First Clue is due out tomorrow for the stole - which means that I get to spend six happy days Playing Mommy, knitting away on a variety of very fun projects, and (hopefully) amassing some truly decent blog fodder for when I return! I also have a lovely story to tell everyone about my new label options, but that will wait for another day (and another package from the post office!)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Can you swear in a blog title?

I mean, I know it's totally ok to swear in the body of a blog posting, but what about in a blog posting title - what's the 'netiquette on that?


Why, you might ask (o' my ducks) do I want to swear? Why, in the face of such general goodness & triumphant knitting progress?

One finished ribbed baby jacket....

...complete w/ intarsia heart on the back.....

.....Munchkin, wearing his new bike helmet, as he helped me to "pound" (aka knead) the dough when he and I made a triple-loaf producing batch of the world's BEST EVER Oatmeal Toasting Bread.

I might send a loaf of this to some friends to thank them for loaning us a movie, but then again I might be greedy and hoard it all for ourselves. We're having BLT's this week one night for dinner (altho' we never actually have real BLT's - Peggers normally has a BBBT {bacon bacon bacon & tomato} while I have a BCT {bacon, cheese & tomato} and the Munchkin normally has........well, maybe these days a bite of bacon, or a sliver of cheese, or a crumb or two of bread. And then after such a dramatic intake such as that he promptly asks for..............oh, cookies or muffins or juice or other things that he KNOWS full well he's not allowed to have - much less at dinnertime!) and the idea of a warm, fragrant, drippy sandwich like that doorstop'd on both ends with oatmeal bread just sounds as good as good can get. recently-organized knitting basket that I keep next to the couch, in which you can not only spy the lovely little gift (lavender 'home fragrance') that I got from a friend this weekend as thanks for letting her use some of our not-in-use baby gear (honestly, what was so hugely generous about such a loan? Let someone use your baby swing because they just had twins or let it sit in the attic and get dusty because your own screaming one is far too big to fit in it anymore - - is that even a real choice?????) but also the purple raglan sweater that I'm in the progress of happily unraveling - I told you guys I would frog it! You can likewise see the recently-purchased lime green Cotton Ease skeins with which I'm currently knitting up a half-finished Debbie Bliss boatneck baby sweater for the newest male addition to Peggers' Buddy Boy Crew..............

Admiring the pinkness & cabled twists on Sockpal sock #2.

....and then finally my most triumphant piece of the week.

I decided that given my current list of WIP's.................

* 3/4 done with Peggers' vest
* 1/2 done with the boatneck baby sweater

..................and given my current list of projects that I'm about to start.....................

* Mystery Stole #3 (more on this to come later this week!)

......that I should get cracking on that second sockpal sock ASAP. So crack away I did - I cast on for it Thursday night and by last night you can see the progress I had made - the heel flap has been started!!! I was sooooo pleased with myself (To the heel flap already? On a knee-high sock???) that I tried them both on at the same time to admire them.

(Pride goeth before a fall.)

And swore.

And swore.

And took a deep breath and swore again.


Did you not see it immediately either? (It took me a bit of looking as well before I caught it.)

Let me show you again.

On the left is sock #1 with all six or so cuff rounds of RT, p2 ribbing. On the left is sock #2 with only four rounds of the same damn cuff.

What to do? What to do?????

It should be obvious to everyone by now that I am not not not ripping this out and re-knitting from the beginning. In fact after I discovered this snafu of mine last night I still continued knitting on the sock - and did another good hour or so this morning in the Toyota dealership while waiting for an oil change.

My current thought is this - can I carefully un-pick my cast on row, slide all of those stitches to my circulars, and knit, er, up the needed extra rows before casting off?

Will that work?

What say you, O Knitting Gurus?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her

...What a dream I had
Pressed in Organdy
Clothed in crinoline
Of smoky burgundy
Softer than the rain...
(Lyrics by Paul Simon & Art Garfunkle)

Just look at what was waiting for me when I came home last night in the evening hours......

Do you know that I cannot find that lovely Soak concoction anywhere near me? And that I'd been coveting it for far too long - but reluctant to give in and buy it (with it's resulting shipping & handling charges) on the off-chance that I wouldn't like whatever scent I had decided to go with? But now I can try! And I can try them all! {insert a shamelessly greedy mwaaahh-hah-hah-hah type laugh here...}

And !OH! the Brittany cabling needles! They're so lovely and wee yet super strong and sleek to the fingertips. I keep petting them. And taking them out of the packing and putting them back in again. And the butterfly is already a favorite of the Munchkin's - in fact minutes after opening the packing I had to wrest it from his sticky little fingertips so that it wasn't twirled around the room as he ran in circles on the living room rug in butterfly-induced happiness!

We won't even discuss how lovely those little Lifesaver candies are.

At first I thought it was my happily-anticipated package from Miriam Felton, as back at the beginning of the month I was one of three totally lucky winners in her Birthday Contest (!) so imagine my total jaw-dropping amazement when I saw that the From: name on the package was not Ms. Mim's , but instead Emily's! She enclosed - along with the goodies and the booty - a lovely little note, too, saying that it was just something meant to brighten my day after the loss of my friend, which indeed it truly did. So much so that I was able to shake off the weariness of a very long work day (working until 9 pm can be pretty ucky - but working until 9 pm when you were up the previous night with your son from 3:15 - 5:30 am is really & truly an ucky of a totally different variety!) and pull out my knitting needles, load up the last disc of the Deadwood series that I have been watching lately thanks to the loan from a friend, and knit away happily and peacefully until 11:30! This was indeed a day-brightening package and just a truly lovely, kind, and all-around wonderful thing to come my way. Much like, I would imagine, Emily to be in person. (I myself would not actually know, as unfortunately I haven't yet met her in the flesh!)

I'm mildly ashamed to say that I'm not currently working on my pal's sockpal socks - I finished the first without too much trouble at all and have cast on for the second (and am 3 rows away from finishing the ribbing and moving to the calf) and am not at all worried tha t I won't finish in time. So instead I'm totally indulging myself by swatching and knitting and ripping for a sock design that I have floating around in my head. And I have to say that this is just So Much Fun that I can hardly bring myself to stop to do other stuff like, you know - Eat. Sleep. Go to work.

I first started swatching and suchlike with the sock yarn that I intend to use on the finished product - the above luscious Apple Rose from Misty Mountain Farms, but I quickly realized my error - not only am I using size 1 needles which means weeny stitches, but due to my ripping/frogging/yanking out in frustration I'm wreaking total hell on my lovely sock yarn - so now I'm swatching and suchlike on some kitchen cotton and size 6 circular needles - faster progress, easier stitches to see/count and no worries if I fuzz to hell and back a length or two (or three or four or five) of kitchen cotton!

This current design interest is due first to Gryphon's post asking for design ideas for her yarn - and then suddenly one popped into my head. But while I can imagine a knitted item that I'd like to wear, I have literally no idea ho w to design one. This came up one day in e-conversation with Mel, as she had just heard that a design of hers was accepted at MagKnits (!), and she graciously offered to see if there was space for me to join a design blog that a friend of hers was running - the perfect place for me to post all of my stupid questions and run my ideas and problems past sympathetic, like-minded people. So join the blog I did - just last week! - and while I was browsing through Barbara Walker's first two Treasury of Knitting Pattern books (Woohoo! my library owns them both and now they're checked out to me until the middle of 2008!!!) looking for a stitch pattern to go with my original idea I stumbled across another pattern that immediately said to me STOP! KNIT ME AS A SOCK! So I figured that as a sock is smaller and as that might (?) mean that there is less room for me to screw up, a sock would be a better first design project than the sweater than I was thinking of. (But never fear, the sweater idea is still there, and I found the perfect stitch pattern and am now really, really excited about getting this all sketched and schematic'd out, too, after I'm done with the sock!)

Well, that 'tis all from me for this post - I need to go back to work and keep making all of the necessary changes to the Copyright web pages that my Dean handed to me yesterday - what fun, 'ay? Happily enough, though, I have an hour of virtual reference desk service to do right before I leave, which always means a little knitting-related time in some way, shape, or form, for myself between questions, so I most certainly have that to look forward to!!!!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Susan's (Un)Sensational Saggy Sweater

I checked my e-mail yesterday afternoon to find a posted comment from Sandy (who must have been reading some back posts) asking when I'd do a F.O. report on my green tea raglan - as I'd been obviously negligent in that area. I decided that there was no time like the present - so when I got dressed this morning I reached for my purple raglan - and within 5 minutes was mentally composing a post on why this sweater has really, really, REALLY disappointed me.

I don't think it's the pattern - I didn't discover any huge errors or suchlike in it at all, and don't get me wrong either - I love the yarn. It's softer than I ever imagined bamboo (100% bamboo!) would be - and I just adore the colour I chose. It's just that the sweater - which fits me for the first 2 minutes of wearing - starts to sag and droop and just kind of fade around me somewhere after the 2 minute, 30 second mark. (But, oh, for those first magical 90 seconds how I do love it so.....)

But two perfect minutes are just not long enough.

The first day I wore the sweater all was good - all was GREAT in fact - until I went into the bathroom and noticed that my sleeve, which had started out nicely snug and slim against the underside of my arm, was starting to bag a little bit. "Hmmmmmmmm............................" I thought. "Well........... that's probably okay - I don't want the arm to be too tight, right?", and so I didn't give it another thought.

But then about an hour later as I walked across the library I looked down and saw that the hem, which had previously been just a hand's span below my bellybutton and smoothly sleek against my pants, had stretched so much that it was starting to........sag a bit lower, and to blouse and ruffle around me. Now while I might be a bit blase about my arms, I'm anything but when it comes to my hips. No extra weight or yardage around those two monuments of mine nosireethankyoubob. So that broke my stride and made me frown a bit as I kept on walking around the building, running my little errands.

I had already come to terms with the fact that it was - due to the nature of the yarn & the needle size I had to use to get gauge - essentially see-through and reminded me more of a piece of chain mail than a sweater. I had even gone out and bought camisoles to wear under it, I had decided that I was *that* okay with that particular design element. (If you can call it such a thing.)

But for me the final straw came when, at the end of the day, I walked outside to mail something in the blue U.S. Post Office mailbox on the corner. As I walked I heard this sort of.............slapping flapping noise and looked down. My sweater hem, which had previously started out a few inches below my bellybutton and was snug around my hips was now down to the middle of my thighs and was literally flaring out like a dress. If I had just a pair of opaque tights on instead of jeans nobody would have even blinked - they'd have thought I was wearing a purple knitted minidress. Not Cool.

Not Acceptable.

So I pondered that evening what I could do to the sweater to fix it, and as I had been reading some Elizabeth Zimmerman not too long before that, suddenly I got the urge to Tell My Knitting Who Was Boss! - so I took a measurement, yanked out my scissors, and simply cut off a huge whacking piece creating a new bottom hem. I pulled out the stray pieces of yarn, shoved the raw stitches that were sticking out on a size 7 circular needle, knitted a row, and then cast off, leaving a rather silky crumpled heap of chopped yarn behind. While that has most certainly helped, I still can't quite get over the 'growth' factor of this yarn - how much it stretches upon wearing, how see-through it is knitted at this gauge, and how while it's lovely and light and silky I can't really feel any of that like I'd like to because I have to wear a camisole under it to keep from showing everyone my bra seams & hooks. Plus the neckline keeps on stretching and showing both bra straps and camisole straps after just an hour or so of wearing.

So, I'm 99.9% reconciled to frog it - my only question is do others think that this yarn, knitted at a much tighter gauge, will sag and droop just like this sweater does, and therefore should I make something completely different? Or should tightening up the gauge give the sags the old heave-ho and knitting a second sweater in a tighter fashion is certainly worth a try?

And while you ponder all of that for me, here are some pictures of what else I've been doing during my recent silent time.................

One finished sockpal sock.

One finished 'Picovoli' gauge swatch.

One almost finished Ribbed Baby Jacket for Maxine. With mods.

.........and last, but certainly not least, for Mel - pics of our beloved Takezo, the Wonder Pup.....


............and this very morning, a few weeks after his summer haircut.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

A Little Quiet Time

Things are currently a little quiet here at Chez Pointy Sticks. Partially because I'm finished with Icarus, partially because I'm diligently working away at my Sockpal's knee-highs, partially because I'm uploading loads of pictures into Ravelry and adding in projects & stash notes & lining things up in my queue. Partially because I'm starting to hit a true wall of exhaustion with all of the visiting and airplane trips and house rehabbing and suchlike that has been going on over the past 5 weeks and is still not yet quite over.

But mostly things are quiet because on Tuesday I got the stunning news that a friend & co-worker of mine died in her sleep that morning. She was only 40, and was a wonderfully vibrant and funny woman. To make matters even more horrific her husband was out of town at the time on a business trip and her death was discovered by her two young daughters, who went in to wake her up and found her.

This has shaken me deeply - and so I've retreated into silence and contemplative knitting and long walks to try and reach some sort of acceptance and peace. However I'm not there yet, so I'll most certainly be a bit more silent for a bit longer.

In the meantime here is what I am looking at while I try and find my own way through this:

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Flying the Coop

Icarus has left the building.

Icarus winged it's way away from me this afternoon - in a padded mailer off to it's new home in Florida...... I actually finished it last week - my little teaser to you was showing you Icarus' bag with the size 2 needles (oops! supposed to be size 3 needles but I just grabbed and started knitting without paying proper attention!!!!) stuck in the fabric and the cable was completely empty. That was the {hint, hint} part.

So that was fun to finally finish - and as always the blocking was cooler than cool.

What started out as wibbly and bobbly with only a half hour of soaking in lavender Eucalan turned quickly into something light and ethereal and incredibly defined.....

And just as wonderfully, what happened that very same evening (Thursday) was that as I was sitting at work starting to mourn my now-finished knit I got an invite from frecklegirl Jess in my inbox to join Ravelry! I literally screeched out loud with delight. (Thank god my office-mate wasn't sitting at his desk when that happened!) I had put my name on the invite list way back when Sheep & Wool was going on - and I knew that a ton of other folks had done the same thing and that eventually I'd get added to the site - I just didn't know it would be so soon & that it would happen on the same day that I had finished Icarus and needed something uplifting and all-engrossing as distraction!

Ravelry is literally all-engrossing. It's the only word I can think of to describe it. I'm obsessed. At first I sat around and typed in loads of my projects and simply burned with anger that my Flickr account (and not just a basic Flickr account, but a Flickr Pro account that costs good money!) was snafu'd and that I couldn't get in to upload any new photos (Ravelry links only to your Flickr pics) but then I got over it and instead started uploading specs on some of my stash yarn, counting off my needles, etc. I'ts soooooooooooo good. I actually took formal "stash pictures" today (having first set up a formal "photo shoot spot" in my room for that express purpose!) just so that I could put them in my Stash Notebook spot. Yes, I'm that much of a geek, and yes, it's that wonderful & truly necessary of a thing to do.

I worship Ravelry at the moment, my ducks. Seriously. Mock me at your own risk.

So today when my Flickr problem still hadn't been answered & the problem hadn't been fixed I simply jumped around it & opened another Flickr account (this one a basic free one!) and started uploading my pictures there just so that I could shunt them over to my Ravelry spots. Pictures like this:
.....and this.

.........and these:

* Starting at the top we have my Sockpal sock w/ a grand total of 4 repeats finished. Expect to see some serious progress on this front, like, SOON.

* Next we have a whopping 8 skeins of Nature Cotton in a deep eggplant purple {it's kettle dyed, so in some spots the eggplant morphs into a rich royal purple} that I bought this weekend on clearance! from a Northern VA yarn shop. Eventually it will be transformed into the Hourglass Sweater from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. I bought it with no specific purpose in mind, so imagine my delight when I checked & found that not only do I have enough but the gauge is spot-on so that I don't have to do any maths fiddling to make the correct size!

* The single crazybeautiful pinkish/orangeish skein is some handspun (?) Gryphon sockyarn in her Sweet Briar Rose colourway that I got a month or so ago when I visited her at the farmer's market. 'Twill be socks for a Certain Someone who I think reads the blog, so I can't say much more than that.

* Two skeins of Misty Mountains Jubilee sock yarn in their Apple Rose colourway. I'm thinking this needs to be a delicate pattern - one that is solid enough to show off the beautiful colours yet not so solid that it's boring. 'twill undoubtedly be a fine line to find it & execute the pattern properly.

* And last but certainly not least is a skein of All Things Heather custom-dyed sockyarn that I got as thanks for my donation to a call she sent out to raise money to buy children's books for a school in South Africa. I'm thinking a pair of Monkeys. I'm thinking for me.

Because I not only finished Icarus last week but I also finished Jay's Screw-y socks last night I suddenly have a lot of project space opening up - with only my Sockpal Socks & Peggers' Vest on my official W.I.P. list. Now granted, I've got a few baby sweaters/ribbed jackets to knit up in the next few weeks, but seeing as how I knitted my very first Debbie Bliss Ribbed Baby Jacket in a mere 3 days (!) over the weekend (a subject for a post later this week) I'm not fussing or even counting those...........

And after all that deadline knitting (backyard leaves scarf, Icarus, Screw-y socks, etc.) that's such a lovely relief!!!!!