Sock One-up-man-ship

I am confident that if you asked just about anyone who knows me in person if I am courteous and polite, the overwhelming response would be yes.  However, I have noticed that my courtesy does not extend to my handknits.  They can be quite rude, as evidenced by this conversation I heard while photographing these two single socks.  (The blue-green sock is knit from Socks that Rock Mediumweight in Nodding Violets, and the red-blue sock is knit in Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in Champlain Sunset).
Practice Socks Singles
Blue Sock: She’s knitting us as practice socks to correct for “protocol drift” that was leading to socks not fitting her as well as she liked. Since I am the second practice sock, I am better than you.
Red Sock: Well, while your 3/8-inch longer heel flap fits her better, in the Eye of the Patridge pattern, there were so many rows that your gusset is a bit, shall we say “baggy.” My gussets are sleek without being stretched too far.  And I fit just fine, so there!
Blue Sock: I fit just fine too, you plain stockinette hussy!
Red Sock: Like 3×1 ribbing in the cuff is such a big deal!

Well, that’s enough of that. On both socks, I finally, finally got the toe grafting done to my satisfaction.
Divine Kitchener
I had been using the directions from Knitty, but I kept getting a bump at the beginning, and I had a very hard time getting the stitches tightened up properly. I decided I needed different directions, as I was clearly missing something. I tried Sally Melville’s directions from her book, The Purl Stitch, and that worked like a charm. I have no idea how I kept from getting a bump at the beginning, but she recommends putting the sock on your hand like a puppet to tighten all the grafting, which for me was pure genius. I was a bit embarrassed that I hadn’t thought of that myself.

Both these socks fit fine, as I finally managed to knit the foot long enough, but I do think that if I want to do an EoP heel flap, I should use a larger needle to try to keep the row number down. I also knit both of these with a larger needle for the leg than for the foot due to my “cankles.” I have a question though for all of you. I noticed  that in stockinette stitch the CTH gives me little uniform Vs, but on the STR, one side of the stitch is much more vertical. See–
Different Vs
Why is that? I’ve noticed this in other people’s knitting too. It seems to be yarn based not knitter based. I do love both these yarns though, which is good as I have more of each in my stash.

Now I need to knit the second sock for each of these, which is not filling me with joyous anticipation–in addition to being rude, they are a little dull. You see, I’ve bought Cookie A’s Flicker pattern and Knottygnome’s Coin Toss pattern. I have Dream in Color Smooshy in Gothic Rose and Blue Lagoon. The only reason I haven’t cast on for these is that I can’t decide which sock to knit in which color.
DIC Smooshy in Blue Lagoon and Gothic Rose
Feel free to voice an opinion.

Containment

Earlier this past week, while M and I ate dinner one night, I looked over at an “extension” of our bar and sighed.  The extension was an old TV cart made of contact paper covered particle board from my graduate school, single days.  Liquor bottles covered the top (which could swivel!), a black plastic tool box holding M’s mandoline (for slicing not music) occupied the “VCR shelf,” and the small cabinet below was full of containers of loose tea.  The cart was ugly, and both cart and all the bottles needed to be dusted before we hosted a dinner party on Saturday.  If only I had a cabinet that I could put all the bottles in.  Then I thought, I could buy a new cabinet.  The next three evenings found M and me at three different stores, and Friday we hit pay dirt.  We bought it, M assembled it, and I filled it.  Neatness abounds.
Bar Cabinet closed
It holds a lot of stuff (the Ficus tree next to it is about 7 ft high):
Bar Cabinet open
So now even the Original Bar is not so crowded (although there are still more liquor bottles in other containment elsewhere–we are well stocked):
Original Bar
Containment is a good thing! Even for knitting projects. The funny thing is that for my three “large” WIPs, I have a matching project bag. Containment and Coordination!
Large Project Bags
On top is an Amish basket given to me by my only aunt (the Amish person is her neighbor in northern Wisconsin); it’s sitting on my Grandma Frances’s old picnic basket. To the right is a cherry blossom bag I got for my birthday; it’s from Janine King Designs. I keep my pink mohair cardi project in there, as the cherry blossoms have the same pink in their detailing. In front, the Totally Autumn throw is kept in a bag with apples on it that one of the millions of my mother’s former English students made and sold. And my newest project, Career Check (Ravelry link), a basket weave jacket by Kathy Zimmerman matches my newest bag, a Christmas gift, handmade by my friend Nancy.
Career Check and Bag from Nancy
I feel very matchy-matchy. I only hope that if I start to knit a blue sweater, I’ll be able to refrain from purchasing a matching blue project bag or basket.

With all this coordination and containment going on, M and I hope that next weekend we will have time to sit down, have a cocktail and write a blog post. Until then, it’s sobriety and knitting around here.

StraTEEgy for 2009

I’ve always liked Bugs Bunny’s pronunciation of strategy as strah-TEE-gee much more than the “correct” version.  I like it so much more that professionally when talking about “cloning strategies” or “purification strategies,” I have to pay attention not to say it like Bugs.  But when considering strategies (so much nicer than resolutions) for leisure time for 2009, it’s stra-TEE-gy all the way.  So, what will an ideal 2009 look like here at Molecular Knitting?  Here’s the plan:

1.  Blog at least 4 times per month, which doesn’t seem like all that much, but I didn’t do that in 2008.  I primarily want to stick with knitting, but I may add a bit more about reading, cooking, photography, cocktails and the like (M and I want to post at least once a month to Cocktails with M–we have lots of photos currently, but we’re going to have to remake and taste again several cocktails in order to write about them–yeah, it’s going to be rough).  I have rules about blogging, which actually make the blog a form of therapy.  You see, I want the blog to be upbeat, cheerful, funny and HONEST.  With the mental torture my brain can put me through that becomes a challenge, but a sanity-saving challenge.  This is probably my most important leisure strategy (remember to say it like Bugs!) for the year, although keeping up with the knitting will make it easier to blog.

2. Knit up one of my three stash albatross yarns into something I like and will be useful. I have 2000+ yards of Lamb’s Pride worsted in periwinkle, 1500+ yards of Lamb’s Pride bulky in raspberry and 1400 yards of Bryspun Kid ‘n’ Ewe in dark red-violet. These three yarns were all purchased in 2001-2002 when I first learned to knit. I thought the February Lady Sweater would be great in the Kid ‘n’ Ewe, but the yarn is terrible in my hands. It “deplies” and breaks. The FLS is in hibernation while I consider whether the whole thing, if I finish it, will simply fall apart when I block it (my current imagined outcome). However, Friday I found a project for the Lamb’s Pride bulky (YAY!), and after starting out, I think it will work out great (Double YAY!). Since I didn’t really want a sweater in a bulky yarn, I was at a loss until I thought of a throw. I may have thought of the throw because our living room temperature was 62 °F. Ravelry led me to Anne Hanson’s Totally Autumn from Knitty (Fall 2007). Anne’s patterns always totally rock, so I cast on faster than you can say 7.0 mm needle. I’ve just started, but I’m pleased.
Totally Autumn beginning
It even matches the new throw pillow I just bought on clearance.
Totally Autumn and throw pillow

3. If 2008 knitting taught me anything, it is that I really appreciate having coordinated hand knits to wear. I also learned that with very short hair and an aversion to turtlenecks, scarves are good even indoors for staying toasty. Therefore, I’ll be trying to knit scarves and socks that coordinate with the sweaters I’ll knit and the clothes I have. My first foray into this consists in knitting a mohair cabled cardi that I’ve knit before, but is now too big. M really loves the first version of this sweater on me, but it has always been huge (row gauge matters when knitting sleeves!) especially now that I am not so huge, so he offered to buy me more yarn to knit it again. Mohair isn’t my favorite yarn to knit–it slows me way down, but it is so warm yet lightweight, that I couldn’t resist. This time round, I chose the Pomegranate shade of La Gran.
Pomegranate Cardi back and Upstairs Scarf
BTW there is nothing reminiscent about pomegranates in that lovely pinky-coral color. Their flowers are orange, their foliage green, and their fruit purply-red. Anyway, the coordinating scarf is a narrow version of the Upstairs Wrap (Ravelry link) by Wollschnegge, which I’m knitting in some CTH Supersock in “Foxy Lady.” I’ll have two more hand knits that can be worn together. I’m practically giddy at the thought.

Finally, I hope not to fret too much in 2009 about WIP number. For example, I love red. I started a pair of socks in a multi-colored, mostly red sock yarn. Of the only 6 pairs of hand knit socks I have that fit me well, two are mostly red, and one has quite a bit of red. So this pair is hibernating while I knit some other colored socks that won’t clash with all my pink and berry colored clothing. Coordinating! I hope it will be a good thing.

P.S.  If anyone has a brilliant idea of what I can knit with 2000+ yards of Lamb’s Pride worsted in periwinkle, I demand you leave a comment and tell me.  Pretty please!

Four Final FOs of 2008

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season filled with peace and good cheer! M and I spent two weeks in Illinois and Wisconsin visiting family and friends. All our flights went smoothly with no delays, and we had a good time. We even got to experience quite a bit of snow in Wisconsin. Among many wonderful gifts, I received some knitting books, the Harlot’s 365-day calendar and a whole lot of yarn–my entire Webs wishlist in fact; but all that must wait for another post, as I must post about my final four 2008 FOs before any more of 2009 goes by. So without further ado…

Socks knit in Seacoast Merino/Tencel in the Baltic colorway:
Baltic Socks
Baltic Socks heel flap
I made up the pattern using a yarn-over “cable” and a beaded rib, which I deem so-so. I also made the heel flap a little short for my instep and the sock circumference a little small for me by accident. However, these will fit my MIL very well, I think, and they are colors she loves. Voila!–one pair of socks for Christmas 2009 done. The yarn and colors are superb.

But I did end up with hand knits for me! The grey tweed pullover has worked out very well. It’s roomy, but I got the sleeve length perfect, and I modified the rolled neck of the pattern to stockinette with purl ridges to better match the detailing on the sleeves and body. I’ve worn this sweater A LOT.
Grey Tweed Pullover
I also knit myself a hat with leftover yarn with the same rolled edge with purl ridges. I like this hat! I usually hate hats.
Grey Tweed Hat and Pullover
Grey Tweed and Malabrigo
You can see the machinations I go through to photograph myself. Glare is not kind. But you can see my final FO–the Malabrigo cabled brioche scarf. Wow! So soft! So cushy! So warm! This might be my favorite hand knit so far. It was wonderful in Wisconsin. I didn’t block it as it looked good and was the perfect width for my short neck without blocking. I went beyond the neckwarmer I originally planned, and I was glad for the extra warmth. It’s about 42 inches long, as seen on the couch-o-meter:
Malabrigo Scarf on Couch-o-meter
Well, that’s it for 2008 FOs. 17 in all. A goodly number. Onward!