Friday, February 25, 2011

Do you sense a theme?

-He likes to be warm

-I had an extra skein of purple

-Dashing is an easy pattern to just dash off

-Oh, and it might be safe to say he has a favourite colour

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tainted Lace

It doesn't happen very often, but sometimes I catch the lace bug. It happened several summers ago, and then ever since I've been concentrating on my main love: socks, mittens, hats, even scarves and shawls, but not complicated lacey ones. It's not that I draw a definite line, and lace will totally slip into my work sometimes.

This week I found myself paging through stitch dictionaries, and then grabbing needles and swatching. Then I went through the library catalogues and requested a gaggle of lace books.

This was partially fueled by a general lace excitement, and partially a search for the best way to knit up my skein of tainted love.The yarn was slim and twisty, and was in no way appropriate for socks. (Or rather, I'm not willing to knit on a size 0 needle or smaller, which would have been required to make this a decent pair of socks.)

The pattern Gail (aka Nightsong) jumped out as the Right Pattern For The Yarn, and I cast on right away. Knitting lace is a completely different experience than my usual knitting. I can't put the needles on automatic pilot while watching a show or chatting with friends. I can't use the chart for a few rows and then memorise the pattern. I can't read my knitting and know just by looking at what stitches I've already knit what stitches I should knit next. I can't forget my pattern at home and blunder ahead anyway.

Also, knitted lace is never very pretty while still on the needles. It's scrunchy and bunched up and all messy. When it grows up, it should be lovely. That's the intent, anyway.

The little orange lines snaking through the pattern are "lifelines". These are threaded through the stitches and left there as a safety net. If I ever screw up royally, I can pull out the needles and rip out the stitches down to the lifeline. That will hold the stitches securely and allow me to carefully put the stitches back on the needle. With a sock, I can just rip out stitches and put them back on the needle without too much difficulty. It's time consuming, but simple. With lace, there's so many complicated stitches that ripping out is a headache, and can sometimes be so unrecoverable that the entire project has to be scrapped. The lifeline is there to prevent a project-dooming calamity.

Experienced and daring knitters knit lace with a lifeline. I'm not that experienced with lace, and decided the extra time and fuss of putting in the lifelines was a worthwhile use of my time. With careful attention and good knitting, I will hopefully have no need for them.

Baby things

Far, far away, a little baby was born. She's so far away she's in tomorrow. The poor little thing had IV lines and cultures and infections, but I hear she's home and sleeping in a cute and noisy fashion. A few days before she arrived, I sent a package across the world to her. Hopefully the items will arrive while she's still an infant.

Skewed Skew

At what point should a project be abandoned? At what point does the heartache and frustration outweigh the joy of the process and the joy of the finished object?

These questions have been looming large recently. I returned to a skew-in-progress that has been in time out since October. I have knit the skew pattern four different times, and while it's involved, it's not all that tricky, so I do not understand how it is that I continue to mess it up.  This grey pair was in time-out for having been the cause of a great deal of redo.

I already have one sock finished. It's the 2nd sock that is not cooperating. The previous attempt was completely ripped out, and I started over with the correct needle size. When the sock was big enough, I switched from magic looping to a 9" circular. At that point, I made a critical error. When you're actually doing the increases, it's too close to see any misalignment, so that's how I got a good 2 inches past the error without noticing.

At the point where I switched needles, I accidentally moved the centre of the row one stitch to the right. This shifted the central column of stitches, making the skew sock rather skewed.

No, seriously. I have screwed up this sock yet again.

Time-out lasted about a week. I ripped it down last night and have started progressing on this again. With the column correctly aligned.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Epic Elven Socks of Epicness

The socks with the intricate cable pattern are complete. They took the entire skein of yarn. Only about 6 little grams of yarn remain. I've never knit a pair of socks that took so much yarn! They have been renamed to Epic Socks.

Yarn: Bugga! in the colourway Juniper Hairstreak
Pattern: Aragorn

Also, while wearing these socks and wandering a creek with a girlfriend, he encountered a strange man who told them about the elves that lived in the hollow, showed them the mystical faery tree, and read his past lives and named him brother.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Once locked, now open over there

two worlds once parted,
there, now sewn together 
with the past behind us.
-John and Mary

The legs of these socks have been very slow going. The cablework eats up both yarn and time. And not only have I had other projects pushing them out of the way, but the intricate detail requires dedicated attention. I can't knit on these and watch Doctor Who, and there's been quite a lot of watching Doctor Who around here lately.

I finally finished the 2nd leg, and turned that second heel. Then the socks' requirements with regards to speed and attention completely changed. The plain knitting of the foot speeds by. Seriously, I knit 3 inches on 2 socks just tonight. The socks are now being knit together, to ensure that both are the same length in the foot. In the legs, since the distance is measured in cable repeats, it's easy to make sure they match. On the feet, since it's just a sea of plain knitting, there are no place markers. Knitting them together eliminates any pesky counting or measuring.

Also? I think there's a camera hog in the house.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Fun facts about this yarn

  • I once purchased this colourway when I had my best gothluck ever.
  • I went ahead and sold it to a mama in Australia because it caught my sympathies that she would have to get up at 2am just to even try to buy gothsocks.
  • This skein was a prize I won in the aforementioned stripey sock KAL. It was the "newbie" prize and I guess I knit the most stripey socks of all the newbies in the swap group.
  • MLO is a kind and wonderful person who donates amazing skeins as prizes.
  • I've never won a prize in a KAL before!
  • Today I watched Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland for the very first time.
  • When the movie was over, I went to check the mail and found this skein, Mad as a Hatter.
  • This skein wants me to knit it. Now.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Knitting Cryptology

In graduate school, I had a technology-related class that had us write a paper with a fairly open topic. The instructor wanted us to use topics of relevance and interest to us, but to examine them in a way that related to our studies. I wound up writing a paper examining the cryptology of knitting, discussing constant and context-based signs and codes that communicate patterns and methods to knitters.

If I were still writing that paper, I'd have a new experience to discuss. I found an adorable hat pattern that I wanted to knit, but the pattern was in Finnish. Google Translate provided me a rather whimsical interpretation of a knitting pattern, translating "knit" into "correctly" and "purl" into "inside out", with reference to manipulating wires and electrodes. With the assistance of an online guide to translating knitting terms, as well as careful study of the photographs, I was able to come up with a fairly good translation of the pattern, and a pretty cute hat.

A tale of two Knit-a-longs

In January, I was participating in two KALs (Knit-a-longs) organised through ravelry groups. One was a gothalong, which simply meant knitting with yarn from Rainy Days and Wooly Dogs. The other was a stripey sock KAL, which had helped inspire me to knit all those stripey socks in the fall.  These 2 KALs are very compatible and I could have so easily double-dipped by knitting some gothstripes into socks.

But of course, the knitting-controller aspect of my brain went rogue and completely discarded that plan. I couldn't decide which gothstripe to knit up, and what I really wanted to knit up was my Absinthe. I had just discovered a delightful little pattern named Hitchhiker, and that had to be my gothalong project.

The hitchhiker was so named because the designer's prototype knitted up with 42 points. My version knit up with 38 points, and I'm just so happy with it. It makes a really snuggly scarf, and I find myself wearing it nearly every day. Instead of Douglas Adams, it reminds me of Anne McCaffrey books, with the scarf looking like the tail of a little green firelizard perched on its human's neck.

Once I'd attended to the gothalong, I found myself with a week left of January and the desire to knit one more pair for the stripe-along. I had plenty of yarn leftover from the neon anklets, and cranked out a new pair of neon socks for myself. I bound off the cuffs in the 10 o'clock hour on the final day of January.