Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Because Socks Don't Count.

Nah, they really don't!

I'm suffering from a bit of a knitting ennui at the moment - Icarus is proceeding along nicely but let's be honest - I'm at the end of Chart 1 now which is almost 400 stitches - and mostly it's straight knitting with a few yo's and ssk/k2tog's thrown in. It's a totally and completely necessary evil of the shawl, I know - and makes for a wonderful architectural "bone" structure that is a truly brilliant design stroke on the part of Ms. Mim, but it's a tad dreary to knit at the moment. I worked my way through three separate BBC America disks of Lord Peter Whimsey working on it - it's fantastic movie knitting - but as my Netflix disks are currently in the mail and I have naught to watch it's starting to wear on me a bit. Thank goodness my latest video infusion is due to arrive today, and 2 more disks should show up tomorrow.

I won't bore you with another picture of what currently looks like a blue knitted deflated balloon. It's quite tough to photograph that saggy blue silky blob in an inventive way. I think I might try pinning it out for a photo shot when I move from Chart 2 -> Chart 3, though........

I'm also working on Peggers' vest. A very nice soft Paton's tweed in a brown and orange fleck with an acid-green trim done on size 7 (8?) needles that while it is going along quickly enough is still - no matter how I try to dress it up - nothing more than a hugely mammoth swath of stockingknit stitch. I knit to something like 8 or 10" then shaped for the armholes and am now making the armholes a full 11 1/2" deep. My man - he's a big'un (6'4"!) which means size L and XL in terms of his shirts. Thank god this one isn't a full sweater - his arms are stunningly long - - even HE calls them gorilla arms!

I'm also ready to start pattern repeat #5 out of 11 on my backyard leaves scarf. While I am still truly feeling the love for the yarn, the pattern is starting to suck out my soul in little tiny bits and pieces. I think this is from doing way too much on it in 24 hours when I first started. I'm currently relying on the bus trip next weekend to & from the Maryland Sheep & Wool festival to help me out with the scarf - as I figure I can get a huge whacking amount done on that particular bus ride.

I have no picture updates on that (knitting) front either, though.

What I do have to show is my current attempt to still keep the overall number of my knitting projects at a managable level, while simultaneously boosting my current knitting mojo.

(See now where the socks start to creep in, and why they absolutely & positively don't count as a knitting 'project'???)

I went shopping at the farmer's market this weekend (yes, I was able to entice Kim to come with me, which was a lovely time - we drove, we purchased, we ate, and we let the Munchkin run around and look at "horsey hineys" in the horse trailers that were for some odd reason in the middle of town that afternoon - - and a good time was had by all - and she still got back with some time left in the day to study for her microbiology exam!) and picked up a little sock yarn from La Casa de Gryphon.....

The blue-y yellow-y green-y one is Gryphon's sock yarn in her 'Australia' colourway. One of my bestest & oldest friends was born in Australia and spent some wonderful months traveling around there a few years ago - so these will be for her. I'm pondering some sort of slipped stitch pattern to really show off the wild colours.

The hot pink & orange & yellow skein (again, via Gryphon) is for a very very good friend of mine (who I think might read this blog and so will therefore remain nameless!) who needs some cheering up via a bright pair of socks. I knitted a wee test swatch to determine the best pattern for these and the yarn really kind of..........bloomed in the washer/dryer and lost a bit of the stitch crispness, so I'm pondering some new stitch patterns to compensate for that.

The above was my final purchase - a skein of Gryphon's Traveller sock yarn in her 'China' colourway. This is for a pair of socks for an organic farmer friend of ours who is absolutely one of the nicer guys around we know - and while we've chosen to totally break from tradition this year and are NOT members of his CSA, that doesn't mean that shiitakes and bags of mixed baby lettuces and suchlike won't show up nonetheless on our doorstep....not to mention fresh eggs! As he's very very tough on his feet (and he's also on his feet all the time!) this is truly a man who needs some cushy socks for what little 'downtime' he chooses to give himself.

This Traveller yarn is exactly what is called for. VERY soft and sproingy and just luscious to the hand. And of course machine-washable, which is also very necessary given the current mental scatteredness of the recipient. I sat and stared at it and did some sock pattern searching in Knitty and came up with some things that I kind of liked and then took those patterns and modified them to what I ultimately wanted. It's a very simple idea - a k2p2 ribbing that after a few rounds* shifts to the right one stitch (repeat from *) - so that the pattern spirals down the leg. My current thinking is that I'll do that on the top of the foot as well - and will do the toe in a star decrease - that way it will remind me of a screw with the threads running down it plus the tiny little spiral at the end. And our buddy? Very much a wee bit of a 'loose-screw' kind of guy - too many years spent out in the full blazing sun farming without a hat plus some SERIOUSLY fun days as a carefree youth!

Here is where I stopped after about 45 minutes of casting-on, knitting and munching and sipping this morning (rhubarb coffee cake left over from this weekend's Sunday AM baking fest & a mug of basic java).....

.........taken mere minutes ago while walking across campus (knitting bag slung over my shoulder, scouting the whole time for a Perfect Photographing Opportunity!) for yet more coffee... It struck me as I was knitting how much this colourway actually reminded me of rhubarb - that bright oxalic green plus the splashed tinges of pink and brown - just like the lovely plant itself!

I'm quite pleased with the photo (and not just because I was able to giddily cram the entire yarn cake into this bronze cub's mouth!) but because I think it truly shows the elasticity and spring and body that is in each and every skein of this particular line of sock yarn. Knitting with this stuff is just lovely - it really reminds me of the primo stuff that I first experienced via Sundara. It would make a wonderful pair of mittens and an even better sweater, if it were dyed in (to use Purly White language) a Somewhat Solid type of way! Along those lines I have a design idea that I'm going to submit to Gryphon and will see what she thinks of it - now wouldn't THAT be fun if it worked out??????

Friday, April 20, 2007

Three Cheers!!!

Oh how lovely lovely lovely.

(A very old shot of my Icarus progress just to give you something to
look at in this otherwise picture-less post...)

I came into work this morning fresh & early (and with lovely temperate weather instead of the yucky drippy chilly mess that we've had for the past two weeks - double-hooray!!!) to find an e-mail from Froggy Dear in my inbox inviting me to the Icarus KAL. She's been super-busy with everything but has emerged from her thesis & conference hell (poor thing - she really does seem nastily busy) and checked her e-mail & as soon as she read my message promptly invited me to join. So join I did and have my first post already in place.

Hip-hip-hooray! Hip-hip-hooray! Hip-hip-hooray!

Tomorrow pretty much all day Peggers has an annual Philosophy Symposium to attend (yaaawwwwnnnnn!!!!) so I'm 95% sure that after breakfast I'm going to pack the Munchkin in his carseat & motor my way up the road to go visit Gryphon at her farmer's market yarn stall. I can hardly wait - it's supposed to be fantastic weather (and I just got paid this week!) - so it should be a great day for a road trip!!!

Hmmmmmmmmm...........I wonder if I can persuade a certain person to play hookey from schoolwork and come along to play with us?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What's an annoyed (knit)blogger to do?


I've knit two Shetland Triangles from Interweave's Scarf Style. I'm 3 pattern repeats into the second half of my Backyard Leaves Scarf from the same book.

(Left: Shetland knit out of stash yarn for my grandmother's 90th birthday. Right: Shetland knit out of Artyarns Royal Silk as a birthday gift for the friend of a friend. Center: Backyard leaves photographed Easter weekend in - where else? - my in-law's backyard...)

....and I'm also 2 e-mail requests in to join the Scarf Style KAL blog and have yet to be answered.

Likewise I've sent two e-mail requests to join the Icarus KAL blog and haven't gotten a reply back there, either! It's been maybe - oh - two weeks for both, and while I went to both of the blog owner's individual pages and saw that yes indeed - one chica has been very busy with thesis and conference and suchlike, I had imagined that she'd have been able to at least reply with a "I'm busy, but I'll get to you eventually" message. The other chica doesn't seem to be busy - 20+ weeks pregnant as all get-out - but not frantically busy like the first.

(Icarus, photographed in the middle of typing this post - somewhere around the 4th or 5th repeat of Chart #1. Doesn't matter, really, as I'll probably do at least 2 more repeats before moving to Chart #2 just for good measure...)

What's the etiquette on this one? Post a comment on the main KAL blog(s) somewhere asking to be added, explaining that the individual e-mail request didn't work? Post a comment on the owner's individual blog asking to be added? Just wait and sit on my hands? Drop it and just knit the damn scarf and shawl and be done with it????

On better news, I am as psyched as all get-out about Sockpalooza 4. I already know what socks I want to knit for my Pal - the ones from Handknit Holidays - but in normal calf length instead of the over-the-knee extravaganza that the original 'recipe' calls for.....

(ohhhhhhhhhhhhh............aren't they BEAUTIFUL????)

I really, really hope when I get my Pal's info that I find out that these sort of socks would be acceptable! My heart isn't **totally** set on knitting them for my Pal (if Pal says no, then I'll knit them for another friend of mine!) but I'm totally drooling over this particular part of the sock and I've just GOT to knit it.........

Tell me that isn't one of THE coolest heelflaps that you've ever seen!?!?!?!?!?!?!

p.s. did I mention that I get to go to Sheep & Wool this year? It's only about 2 hours away - so it's a cakewalk in terms of travel. I'm truly truly excited about it, even if it does currently seem an eternity away at this very second....

Thursday, April 12, 2007

p.s. OMG it's here! It's time!!!

Oh! oh! oh! look at what I just signed up to do!!!!!!!

(along with - as of 9 AM today - a whopping 725 other insane sock knitters!)

Oh yeah, baby, I've been waiting a very long time to do this!

Jumping Across the Pond

I have been coveting (majorly, majorly coveting!) Skinny Rabbit's knits for ages now - ever since I randomly stumbled across her blog more than a year ago.

The first thing to do it for me was THIS - her ribbon cardigan with 3/4 sleeves from Phildar's Eté 2004 pattern book, using this really cool (but now, sadly, discontinued) ribbon yarn by Phil Ruban in this incredible apricot colour 'Cuivre'. I did a frantic search for the pattern, and read somewhere that the Canadian shop Knit n' Tyme carries Phildar mags, and when I e-mailed them they quite kindly told me that yes, they did carry that particular issue and that yes, the sweater I was coveting was in it. And then they told me that this issue was only in French. And people, languages are not my strong point. Without coffee I even struggle with English in the morning - just as Peggers. (Or, as he'd probably quite kindly point out, I also struggle with it after a single glass of red wine - case in point? Last night after dinner - which involved one single solitary glass of Merlot - and a few errands out with a very very very wired Munchkin.)

A photo of the lovely - sadly, now impossible to find - Phil Ruban ribbon yarn. A quick Google search brought this to me from a 2005 (!) stash sale that is now long long long over.
The irony that pains me particularly is that this is even the exact colour that I dream of......

So after realizing that the Phildar issue was in French I simply gave up on it and contented myself to just read Ms. Rabbit's blog entries and willed myself to Let Things Go. Of course, I kept returning to the pictures over and over and over again, but I resisted. Oh, how I resisted. Then after I met Gryphon and listened to her talk and post about knitting and designing her own pieces, I realized that I could probably knit and design the thing myself from my basic knowled
ge of how knitted pieces are made and fitted together, with a knitted leaf/lace pattern put along the edge of the cardi all on my very own. So the pain eased a wee little bit.

Then yesterday, realizing that because Fluffa/Skinny Rabbit does not in fact have an RSS feed and so is not something that I can add to my list of updatable blog links, I went over and browsed her back back bac
k postings. And read all about the incredibly adorable intarsia linen jacket that she knitted her little boy (she's SUCH a good mommy - she knits him a jacket every year to go back to school in!), and at the bottom of the post she mentions this really neat zipper facing trick that she learned the previous year while making her son's knitted cotton jacket. And a nifty zipper trick with facings ("Facings?" I wondered to myself, "what are those???") is something that I was interested in reading about. Heck, this woman is so funny and entertaining when she writes that I even read eagerly about her afternoon snacks - she's that engrossing a person! (Hey, an American ex-lawyer who moved to France, got married and had an adorable son, and is now enrolled in fashion school? With a perfect bod for draping clothes on and a wack dance style? Engrossing is too weak a word for her!!!!)

So dutifully an
d happily I clicked on the post to read about her son's cotton jacket.

And totally fell in LOVE.

An asymetrical jacket done in 3x1 ribbing that melts into plain stocking knit on the front panels, with this wonderful collar that stands up just the wee-est bit and a zipper'd front. Ribbed sleeves. It just screamed out to me to make it for the Munchkin - - he so adores wearing his little jackets and just loves loves loves practicing with his zippe
r. Plus it would make me so incredibly happy to knit him something else other than the rooster sweater that I finished for him when he was about 6 months old (I made it in a 2-year old size) and haven't made him a thing since.

Plus I have this really cool Katia (?) yarn that I got on a major wh
ack discount from The Fine Needle about, oh, 2 years ago and it would be perfect for a jacket. It's this funky wool/something blend, where the something is this sort of ribbon thing that twists around the wool in an acid yellow green flecked with orange, brown, and red. Totally something that a child could wear as a jacket but nobody else could wear as a sweater because it would just be Too Bizarre. Plus it's a bit stiff, which is even better in terms of jacket & not in terms of sweater.

So I did it. I popped right over to Knit n' Tym
e and found the Phildar mag with the asymetrical jacket pattern in it and bought it, despite my total lack of French-speaking abilities. (A knitters dictionary in multiple languages is now apparently on my knitting purchase list!!!! AHEM! PEGGERS! Major mother's day present idea just stated here! Pay attention, Mr. Buggs!!!!) I also went out last night after dinner (and - hehehe - the afore-mentioned glass of red wine) and bought a copy of Katharina Buss's Big Book of Knitting because the Rabbit also mentions this several times in many of her posts - including this one with the cool trick with the zipper facings.

And lemmie' tell you, that Rabbit is one woman who turns out some muy polished looking knitted pieces. She's totally the boss of her knitting - and isn't afraid to rip out, re-work, or re-stitch something if it doesn't look exactly SO. And while my basic knitting skills are certainly up to snuff after all this time, my finishing skills need some boosting - so I figure this is about the time that I need to work on them - and this might just be the book to help me to do so.

I realized this for several reasons, but the most major one being that I finished & seamed & wove-in the ends on my Green Tea Raglan
sweater last night and am wearing it today. And while it looks lovely (.....albeit long! See how the pic in Interweave shows a cute little jean-clad backside peeking from beneath the sweater? My sweater - knitted most carefully to the measurements in the mag!!!! - covers the back pockets of my pants. Comes to the ball & socket joint in my hip. Is most certainly tunic length rather than slightly-long-sweater-length. What to do about this, I am not certain at all.) it doesn't look nearly as professional as I'd like. I don't think it looks Home-Ec from 8th grade, now, mind you - but it doesn't look as polished as it could.

So 2007 might very well end up being the Year Of Learning Finishing Techniques here at Chez Pointy Sticks...................

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Easter TONS

....tons and tons and tons of knitting was done this weekend, that is!

(Despite 6" of freakish snow, a 5-6 hour power outage,
and not being at home for all of Saturday and half of Sunday)

I'm actually a bit amazed myself at how much was finished! And I'm a s-l-o-w knitter compared to many (being the 'grabber' type knitter instead of the continental or other styles of knitters makes me considerably slower than most, I've always thought) - - yet despite my turtle-like tendencies with the needles here is what I managed to work on this weekend:

I finished my Green Tea Raglan and blocked it and seamed it all together. All is left is to finish weaving all of those hellish ends. I have also tried it on & happily enough it fits (!) altho' I do have to say in the sake of modesty I will buy a cami to wear underneath it before I actually sport it outside of the house.

I also did a ton of knitting on the Backyard Leaves Scarf using Gryphon's amazing yarn. This stuff is pure gold, lemmie' tell you - very very very soft (and passed my patented sniff test with its very first whiff!) and just lovely lovely lovely colours all melded and melted together. It is actually due to Gryphon's lovely yarn that I credit actually finishing the first half of the scarf, as I rapidly grew tired of the pattern repeat after about, oh, the 6th one. Finishing those last two (you do 11 repeats before finishing off the pointy end) took some serious discipline! I'm guessing, however, that my lack of enthusiasm was not because of a failure in the scarf pattern, but rather because I did all of this scarf knitting in a day and a half. I will cast on for the second half very soon - I have determined that I will finish one pattern repeat every day at the very least - which means that the scarf will be more of less done in a week and a half. PLENTY of time to make my Mother's Day deadline!

I interspersed the scarf knitting with some Icarus knitting - -

(my progress shot taken outside Saturday afternoon during the power outage!)

- - my Jaegerspun Zephyr from Sarah's Yarns came stunningly soon after ordering it - - I ordered it around 1PM on a Thursday and it was literally on my doorstep time-stamped by the UPS guy at 12:40 PM the very next day. Talk about the speed of light! The yarn is wound for you by the Sarah folks - - they take their huge-mongous cone of Jaegerspun and wind off 2 ounces for you and then sell you just that 2 ounces at whatever percentage of the total 1-pound cone price would be. In my case that came to just $5 and some change per two-ounce ball. Can you believe it? Apparently they're a bit controversial in the yarn-retail world because of this practice, but as a person who literally snorts out loud when I read People magazine or US magazine and see the prices on those "designer" bags or "designer" jeans that celebrities wear ($700?????? For a pair of JEANS?????? Unless they magically turn my ass into a size 6 and do the dishes for me every night, I'm hard-pressed to shell out $70 for a pair of jeans!!!) this discount pricing model sits just fine with me, thankyouverymuch!

(Above is a progress shot taken this morning - I've finished the first repeat of Chart 1...the outside shot above is much much much more true to colour than this particular shot - something about the indoor light plus the grey-ish background - that is - it's grey in real life! - just washes out the intense intense intense robin's egg dark blue that is truthfully is...)

The bugger part of the Icarus story is that I also ordered an Addi bamboo size 3 (24") needle to knit it on, but decided to go w/ the size 3 Addi (16" - one of the circs that I use for socks) that I had to get started. You know - starteritis - I totally couldn't wait until the longer needle arrived in the mail......until yesterday when it actually did arrive and I slapped my forehead in disgust. I already HAVE a size 3 Addi (24") needle (turns out those sock needles that I bought were in fact ALL 24" long!) - in fact, that was exactly what I had been knitting the sucker on in the first place!!! So now I have three Addi naturas size 3 in 24 inches. I just didn't bother to check & measure (or heck, even READ the packaging!) before my silly self went crazy online ordering with reckless abandon. So now what do I do? Do I try and send it back? Do I even think that 24" is remotely long enough for such a huge shawl in the first place - so do I try and send it back and ask them to send a 36" long needle instead? Do I offer it in a swap to a friend? Do I burn it, offering it up to the gods in an attempt to prevent future Online-Knitting-Supply-Ordering Stupidity???

This morning I also started organizing my current batch of projects. Below what you see is nothing other than my patented "circular needle method" - which for me means that anything remotely small that I knit on a circular needle I stuff in one of these $1 Target bags that I bought over the summer and keep labeled (and therefore organized, as in my world this counts as organized!) with little ring tabs. While I haven't yet started Seraphim, what I currently have in that particular bag is a freshly-wound yarn cake of the Handpaintedyarn skein (didn't like the skein too much, but love love love the yarn cake!) and a pair of Knit Picks Options, size 5.

Pointy little suckers, those.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Sorry - I'm hungry - that should really be *catch up*.

Quickly, as I've got about 15 minutes to myself before I need to run - so just the basics:

My Green Tea Raglan bamboo sweater: I'm down to the last few rows on the front - and already the back & sleeves are done. I'm so excited about this - my first adult sweater (for me!), and out of cool nifty bamboo nonetheless. I'm going to block it and seam it and try it on before deciding if I should knit the little belt or not.

The weather here is finally turning nice (with this weekend being a nasty, cold, drippy, wet exception!) and so I'm anticipating lots of fantastic wearing of this perfect mid-weight sweater in the next few months.

Next, I have a picture of Gryphon's yarn that she so kindly hand-dyed me to knit the Backyard Leaves scarf with. Isn't it AMAZING?????????

It should arrive in the mail sometime this week, and as soon as I'm finished with the sweater (Friday? Saturday? Sunday?) I'm going to start right in on it. Looking at the lace chart I know already that I'm going to have to translate the chart from chart form into column form instructions, but that's okay.


Yes, I'm going to knit Icarus, but not for my retiring co-worker, but rather for my wonderful Grams who I am going to see in May. I **just** ordered 2 skeins of Zephyr Wool-Silk in Agean Blue (shown obligingly in the pic below from Miss Ewe Knits' Blog) from Sarah's Yarns and lo and behold not 5 minutes later (!!!!) I received an e-mail telling me that the yarn has been shipped via UPS Ground and they even included a tracking number. Holy shit!!!! I also ordered not the Addi Lace Turbos that you see in the picture below as they're sold out pretty much everywhere I quickly looked but instead a pair of Addi Natura circs, size #3 from Angelika's Yarn Store, where I've heard the shipping is almost as equally fast! I'm a bit bummed that I couldn't find the Addi Lace needles, but as I love love love the Addi Natura needles and know that I'll use these for ever and ever and ever I'm not really that bummed. Besides {snicker, snicker} I know that once the Addi Lace needles stop being *the* thing that everyone wants I'll buy several pairs eventually!

And what, you might ask, am I going to do with the yarn I bought earlier that I had intended for Icarus?


Here is a beautiful example that I found on Knit/Wit's blog via her posting in the Seraphim KAL (which I joined, right along w/ the Icarus KAL, of course!) - she did hers in KnitPicks Gloss - I think that this is going to be incredible in the hand-dyed deep blue laceweight that I got for my co-worker!

Well, my 15 minutes are up - time to grab my book and run over to my trusty reading spot so that I can digest my necessary three chapters in the time allotted before I get to run back and sit desk for two hours.

The good part of today, though? Getting to have dinner tonight at a local Vietnamese/Thai place w/ a candidate (never met the candidate & never eaten at the new restaurant!) and then green tea raglan knitting once I get home and bath/bedtime is over! Peggers bought the Keven Smith 2-disk set (his tour around various college campuses) and we watched part of it last night - it is HYSTERICAL! Fantastic knitting watching - great listening, loads of laughs and interesting stories, plus as it's so interesting it keeps me awake - and therefore knitting! - long past my normal bedtime of 10:15 PM!