Back again…

I didn’t mean to be gone so long again. Neither Archie, my laptop, nor I is having the easiest of summers. We decided to send him to Applecare right after the July 4th holiday weekend. On the second of July, M took me to after-hours care with a headache that nothing would make better. It turned out to be a “mixed” headache: both tension and migraine. :( I got two shots, which made the headache go away for nearly two days, but less severe headaches keep coming back. That hasn’t made we want to do more than what I have to do for work on Archie, who seems to have fared better than I. He has a new logic board, thermal module and thermal sensor wires. He is now staying nice and cool. I wish I could get new parts like that!

Last post, I showed the finished toes of the Gentleman’s Fancy Sock from Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush. At first, I thought the Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Potluck in Blues/Purples I was using looked better in the skein than in the sock, but it grew on me. I’m quite pleased how well these turned out.
Gentleman's Fancy Socks
To make these for me and not a gentleman, I started at 72 stitches and decreased to 64, which I further decreased to 60 when working the gussets. I also did a slip-stitch heel flap instead of stockinette; I also did a wide toe, but I don’t know if that was part of the pattern or not (which is upstairs, and I’m lazy).
Gentleman's Fancy Socks: heel flap
Half-way down the foot of the first sock, I realized I had changed the instep pattern to one knit row instead of two between the alternating sets of 2×2 rib. I couldn’t see a real difference, so I kept on going and did the second sock the same way. I also made sure I made these long enough before starting the toe: 1.5 inches from the total length not 2 inches, like many patterns suggest.

I liked this pattern stitch for an easy sock as it was more interesting than just 2×2 rib (doing 8 row sets of rib seemed to go faster than just measuring length), but I obviously didn’t need the pattern to keep going. I like having such a sock in progress: not too dull but not requiring a lot of mental power to stay on track. Once these were done, I didn’t feel like knitting the second Retro Rib Sock yet, so I looked for another such pattern. Luckily, Anne had just offered the Roger Sock for sale, and I knew it would look great in some BFL superwash sock yarn from Little Dog Designs. I really like the BFL yarn; it has a nice luster, and the dye job is great! The colorway is called Poseidon, and is richer than this photo suggests (it’s a billion degrees outside–I’m not going outside to photograph anything much less wool today–see lazy comment above–I am doing laundry in a 90+ degree garage).
Roger Sock: pattern detail
Well, that’s enough computer time for today, as tomorrow I’ll be referencing a manuscript, which will try Archie’s and my patience to the limit. But I need to point out that M has been diligently blogging at Cocktails with M this summer! He’s had no comments. The Side Car is one of my favorite cocktails. Cheers!

Lightweight Knitting

Well, I have not been keeping up with my plan to post 4 times a month, but there are extenuating circumstances.  I can’t reveal details at this time, but I can say two things.  First, there is a very good probability that several months before the end of this year I will be able to say that I have lived in 7 states in the U.S. not just 6.  Second, wishing M the best of luck in all his career endeavors would be a very nice comment to leave to this post.

As for knitting, my sore first knuckle of my right index finger is taking its own sweet time to heal completely. I’ve resprained it twice now, thinking it was all better when it was still feeling a bit piqued. Once was while knitting on the raspberry throw I started early in the year. It was just too heavy. So it is lightweight knitting for now. Luckily, it isn’t the process of knitting that causes pain just the weight of the knitting (and knitting too much through the backloop). I can knit the sleeves from my La Gran Cardi (if you want a visual refresher, it’s in the same post as the raspberry throw above), as mohair weighs practically nothing. I was certain I would have to make the sleeves shorter than the pattern specified, so I blocked the body pieces, seamed the shoulders and then tried it on. Making the sleeves exactly as the patter dictates will work just fine. My Tudor Grace scarf is done and blocked, but I haven’t been able to take a good picture of it on yet, so that will have to wait.

But I have been able to finish some socks. This is important, as my feet love handknit socks and hate purchased socks. Last winter I had to rely more on the latter than the former, and my feet decided to be drier, itchier, and colder. I finished the stockinette socks in CTH Champlain Sunset:
Champlain Sunset Socks left
I tried a cable pattern with this yarn first that were staggered rope cables with no purling between the ropes. It was too subtle for this busy colorway and not stretchy enough for socks. I tried something else too, but I can’t remember what, but the yarn finally convinced me it just wanted to be stockinette. In the end, I agree it was the best choice. Moving along, I also finished the Nodding Violet socks in STR medium weight.
Nodding Violet Socks right
I have these socks on as I write, and the medium weight STR will work in some of my shoes, but I think these will be best as I am wearing them now–with my fleece-lined slippers when my feet and ankles are like ice cubes. In addition to finishing these two pair, I have two single socks also completed: a Spring Monkey and a Gentleman’s Fancy Sock.
Spring Monkey Sock 1
Gentleman's Fancy Sock 1
I love everything about the Monkey sock: yarn, pattern, colors. I’ll definitely be knitting this pattern again. I have the second sock started. The Gentleman’s Fancy Sock, which I’ve slightly modified from Nancy Bush’s pattern in Vintage Socks, is more of a disappointment. The colors knit up aren’t as pretty as the yarn in the skein. The duller shades of grey-blue stick together and the more intense purple-blue is then left on its own. This remained consistent though the leg decreased from 72 to 64 stitches, and the foot has only 60 stitches. I’d like better mixing. Oh, well. I will knit the second sock, but not just yet. Since I feel a desperate need for blue socks, I started a Retro Rib Sock from Favorite Socks in Knit Picks Essential Tweed in Blue Ox. That is going much better.
Retro Rib Sock WIP
I also started a shawl in some stashed Sea Silk I had on hand, as I realized we are going to an evening wedding in June in the mountains by the ocean. But that will have to wait for another post. I should go clean out a closet of things that I don’t really want to take to a seventh state. M is at work; I can throw more things away when he isn’t around.

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!

Good News-Bad News

Bad News:  I turned 45 on Monday the 10th.  It’s hard to call that early 40s anymore.
Good News:  I had a birthday!  M took me out for a great dinner at a local Greek restaurant, and I got some great stuff too, like a pretty quartz and pyrite mineral from Transylvania to add to my mineral collection. It’s more sparkly in the sun.
Quartz with pyrite from Transylvania
Bad News: I have a pinched sciatic nerve in my left leg that is causing numbness and weakness.
Good News: I have very little actual pain with it, and the doctor thinks physical therapy is all that is needed, plus I can continue yoga.

Bad News: Good golly my hamstrings are sore!
Good News: I started yoga again after an eight year hiatus. I found a great teacher who is fun and smart, and I’m still scarily flexible.

Bad News: The Lucky 7 Hat I knit as a Christmas gift for my SIL will be too small for her.
Good News: The hat turned out well, and it fits Meghan, a grad student in lab who is petite. The hat was not knit in vain; it has a head!
Meghan wearing Lucky 7 Hat
Lucky 7 Hat
Bad News: I have to knit another hat. I hate knitting hats. I especially hate 16-inch circular needles.
Good News: I have 8″-long dpns. I can make up a simple hat pattern good for skiing (must have fold over brim). I knit a gauge swatch and found out the head measurement of my SIL. 96-st around will work fine.
Teresa's hat
Bad News: I didn’t have enough dark green yarn left over to make a second hat. The green matches SIL’s ski jacket.
Good News: I can buy yarn online! Above is Wool of the Andes in Ivy Kettle Hand-dyed. To get free shipping, I “had” to buy enough yarn to knit a sweater for me. Below is Wool of the Andes in Fern.
Wool of the Andes in Fern
Bad News: Some knitters complain that their Wool of the Andes is scratchy and the skeins full of knots.
Good News: Not scratchy to me. One knot in the first skein. Colors seem very good.

Bad News: I could go on and on with this Bad News-Good News thing.
Good News: I’m stopping now.

Christmas Socks and Dragonflies

Before I get to the socks, many people wanted me to keep them updated about my family’s cat Rip.  Well, in very early October, Rip needed to be put down.  He really was not doing well.  My family misses him of course, but they are glad he is no longer suffering.  They appreciated all of your wonderful comments.

While knitting the first pair of Christmas socks in a 4×4 rib, I realized that if I didn’t get any sock blockers, I was going to have awful photos.  The socks were too narrow for my feet, so I asked Cristi, the turtlegirl, if she’d make me a pair of  blockers.  Cristi usually puts rulers on the blockers, but I didn’t need that, so she asked if I wanted anything else.  Well, I had a ladybug tape measure and a beehive pincushion (see below), so I thought something keeping with the “good bugs” theme would be cool.  Cristi did dragonflies, and I couldn’t be more pleased.
Dragonfly sock blockers
So, the first pair of Christmas socks, which I finished in August, can now have their FO pic on the blog.
Christmas Socks I 2008
The yarn is Fleece Artist Merino in Lily Pond. I knit on 2.25 mm (size 1) needles, which with my tension the FA yarn made for a very durable fabric. I don’t think I’ll do that again. Plus, on size 1 needles, the Eye of Partridge heel took 42 rows for 21 picked up stitches. I’m somewhat surprised that the gussets worked out as well as they did. But they are DONE!

I also finished the second pair of Christmas socks in a K3,P1,K1,P1 rib for the leg and a stockinette foot. These turned out nice in Fleece Artist Seawool in Burgundy.
Christmas Socks II 2008
I wasn’t enthralled with the Seawool; it felt a little artificial, but the knit fabric turned out very nice. So that’s IT on the Christmas socks. I have one hat to knit for a gift. I already knit a hat, but it is too small for the recipient, so I ordered new yarn. The too small hat should fit a grad student in lab who is a size 0 and grew up in Phoenix, so she finds northern California cold. She’s agreed to a photoshoot if the hat fits, and then she can keep it.

I have to show you my bottle cap pin cushion (the support is a bottle cap from a 2 liter soda bottle) made by Very Big Jen, which I bought at her etsy shop, Schmaltzy Craftsy. It is so cute! (and I’m usually pretty immune to cute) I haven’t been able to stick any pins in it yet. So it currently functions as a objet d’art. With the dragonfly sock blockers and my ladybug tape measure, the trio makes quite a nice little “good bugs” grouping. Good bugs, of course, are those bugs that eat the bad bugs that bite me (or provide the world with food by pollinating plants and eating crop pests–I suppose that’s almost as important as eating the bugs that bite me).
Beehive pincushion
As for bugs biting me, let’s just say that when asked what sort of insect repellent he uses, M says, “I stand next to my wife, and they are too busy biting her to bite me.” Nice.

FO: Nelosys

First, a heartfelt thank you to everyone who left a comment about Rippy.  My family was very touched; many comments brought tears to their eyes.  My brother was glad to see that so many other people had had cats live so long and that became such good friends with their people.  I used a random number generator and it chose comments 3 and 19, so I have emailed Bridget and Lynn, asking for their mailing addresses to send them yarn.  Maybe next year my blogiversary, or Blog Day, which sounds even better to me, will be more cheerful.  Let’s hope.

I finished Nelosys (Never-ending Left-over Sock Yarn Shawl) way back in June, and just didn’t get around to blogging about it. I kept thinking I could get in a modeled photo shoot. However, that hasn’t worked out, and the blocked shawl lying neatly folder on my work counter finally shouted, “Just take my &*%#%@* photo and blog me!” All-righty then.
Nelosys-hanging
Those of you who don’t remember my posts of last April (if you do, you need help), Nelosys is a shoulder shawl of my own design, which I knit using left over sock yarn. I chose my cool-colored leftovers, transitioning to a new color through 3 rows of garter stitch so that purl ridges formed on the right side (row 1 in old color, rows 2-3 in the new color). Each new new colorway has at least one color in common with the old. This caused a shift from blue-purples to blue-greens and back ending with purple-greys on the outside edge (the shawl is knit top down from the center with 4 increases every right side row).
Nelosys-detail
From the top:
1. Claudia Hand-Painted, Walk in the Woods: stockinette
2. Shibui sock yarn, Midnight: seed stitch
3. Fleece Artist Merino, Midnight: crossed stockinette
4. Cherry Tree Hill Supersock, Peacock: rice stitch
5. Fleece Artist Merino, Nova Scotia: fleck stitch
6. Fleece Artist Merino, Hercules: moss stitch
7. Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock, Black Pearl: garter

I knit the shawl with size 5 needles, but bound off using size 7 needles. I didn’t pin for blocking, just laid it out nicely after a nice bath in my shampoo for color-treated (cough! cough!) hair. It is 54 inches along the top hypotenuse, and 27.5 inches from the bottom tip to the top edge. I was out of cool-colored sock yarn at this point, so I’m glad I got a shawl of a usable size. All in all, I’m quite pleased with how it turned out. We keep our house very cool, and I wanted something to keep my neck and shoulders warm when knitting or reading. This should fit the bill!

I’m not ready to start a second Nelosys, but I’m getting a good collection of leftovers in bright colorways…
Bright Leftovers for Nelosys II

Happy Autumn!

Sucked into LibraryThing, but still a FO

Last weekend my barcode scanner for entering books into LibraryThing arrived, and I got sucked in.  The scary part is that I spent most of Saturday and a good part of Sunday putting our books into my account, and at 822 books, I’m maybe 2/3 through.  If you have a lot of books, LibraryThing is a handy place and way to get them all cataloged.  It allows you to see what others who read the books you read also read that you might not know about.  Plus, if the house burns down, there is your whole library catalog on the web to show the insurance (this is how I rationalized it to myself–but I’m really a closet librarian).  My moniker there is shinycolors.

But even with all the book craziness, I do have a FO: the Stansfield 27 socks are done! These are for my friend Nancy, who takes exquisite care of her hand knit socks, but also wears them regularly. She also notices fancy toes, stitch patterns, heel architecture, etc. So, she is definitely a good person to knit socks for.
Stansfield 27 socks
Stansfield 27 socks on feet
The photo of the socks on my feet show the Raspberry color of the Fearless Fibers Superwash Merino the best. Charlene Schurch in More Sensational Knitted Socks includes this 10-stitch repeat pattern from Lesley Stanfield’s stitch dictionary. The only thing I changed was to change needle sizes from 2 to 1 part way down the leg for some pseudo-shaping, and I used the Star Toe of Three Points from any one of Nancy Bush’s sock books. That toe is a little longer than a standard toe, so I was able to end the pattern where I wanted, so it starts at the top and ends at the bottom of the sock at the same place, but I was still able to get a sock the right size for Nancy.

It is a nice stitch pattern to knit. Every other round is just knit, and it’s easy to count the garter ridges of the basketweave pattern. Here’s the pattern stitch up close.
detail

So, now after a wash, I’ll be able to give them to Nancy for her birthday which was July 31st, and she’ll tuck them into a drawer until the end of October when it might get cool enough for her to wear them.

Well, August 27th was my second Blogiversary, and I plan to have a belated contest to celebrate, but I’m still working out the details. I the meantime, while I dither, knit on!