April Socks in June

Here they are, only six weeks late:
Rib and Cable Socks
Pattern:Rib and Cables Socks by Nancy Bush (IK,Fall 2005)
Yarn:Seacoast Panda in Truffle (merino wool and bamboo)
Mods:Whole leg is shorter than the 9″ called for in the pattern. Crossed the cables every 6th instead of every 8th round–I liked this better. Did an Eye of Partridge rather than ribbed heel flap. I did do the Welsh heel turn (fun) and the Star Toe of 3 Points (pretty, but I hate the P3togs that pile up on each other at the end).

I got bogged down knitting these; I finished the first sock in early April and then didn’t want to knit the second straight away. This makes finishing “on time” difficult. For now I’ll work on piling up some more single socks, and then make the mates a little later. To that end, I have a single sock in some green Tofutsies:
Green Arrow Sock
I made the cuff shorter than usual as this yarn makes a nice warm weather sock. This time round I didn’t find it splittly like I did the first time. The stitch pattern is “Arrow” from Charlene Schurch’s Sensational Knitted Socks.

Of all the other socks I had started in my last post, only one other made the cut, another green sock in the Ringwood stitch pattern from Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush. I’m just using the stitch pattern, as the sock is sized in the book for a man. I love the Happy Forest Smooshy yarn from Dream in Color.
Ringwood Forest Sock: WIP

Back to the beginning
The above have been ripped. The top left was Sockittome from CTH, and the yarn was not nice; it felt very acrylicky–even though it wasn’t. I didn’t like holding it. The top right was a design idea that turned out to look stupid, and the bottom will soon be back on the needles but in a pattern that I can do some calf shaping with.

Meanwhile, I’ve picked out patterns for these gorgeous semi-solids: BMFA STR lightweight in Rose Quartz and Sundara Sock Yarn in Ember over Flame.
pretty colors
You’ll just have to wait to see what the patterns are. I might jinx it if I tell you before I’ve even cast on.

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.

Soggy Weather

After a very dry January, which should be the wettest month of the year here in Northern-Central California, February has been very wet. I have several things to block, but with 60% humidity and low-to-mid-60 temps in the house, I’ve been hesitant to pin wet handknits to a towel on the floor (or run a fan). So I’ve got a stack waiting to be blocked:
Knits to block
On the bottom are the two fronts and back to the La Gran Mohair cardi, which I want to block and seam at the shoulders before I knit the sleeves, as I’m certain I’ll have to shorten them. The first time I knit this cardigan a couple years ago, the sleeve length was good for M, who is long limbed and 6’4″ tall; I have short arms and legs and am 5’6″. Next up, Tudor Grace is ready to block! Very excited by that. I finished the second stockinette sock in CTH Champlain Sunset, and they need a wash. On top is a swatch for the periwinkle Lamb’s Pride worsted you may remember I was trying to find a pattern for. I have a pattern! Unblocked the swatch is very close; I think blocking will do the trick. But I won’t say more until I know the swatch really is OK–don’t want to jinx it.

So during the two days that haven’t been rainy and sodden, M’s parents were here visiting and we went up into the Sierra Nevada Foothills to Placerville. Placerville was a gold rush town, and so it is chock full of historical buildings and things to do. It even has a yarn shop! I got to go to Lofty Lou’s. Here Nancy and I head into the little shop:
Nancy and me outside Lofty Lou's

M and Bob outside Lofty Lou's
M and his dad, Bob, weren’t that thrilled with the thought of crawling through a yarn shop (Crazy! I know.), but Lou had anticipated this. There were chairs outside on a little patio, and they had a good chat and did some people watching while Nancy and I shopped. There were a lot of novelty yarns and sock yarns, but I had a couple of scraps of sweater yarn I want to get coordinating yarn to knit scarves with. And I found a winner! Trabajos del Peru, a new merino yarn from Plymouth Yarns was scrumptious!
Trabajos del Peru
It’s aran weight (4 spi on size 9 needles), and two skeins had nearly 300 yds of yarn and cost less than $20. A real deal. It’s hand-dyed and single ply like Malabrigo. I wonder if the dyers from Uruguay (Manos del Uruguay), Paraguay (Malabrigo) and now this yarn from Peru feel a sense of competition. Do they look at each other’s color cards and make snide comments? Well, these colors are lovely, and the greens match my Wool of the Andes (Peruvian yarns rule!) in Fern.
Fern WoA and Trabajos del Peru
My current plan is a February Lady Sweater in the Fern and a chevron/feather and fan sort of motif for the scarf. But all that could change!
Well, before my headache really becomes a migraine, I should wish all of you a great weekend, and now I’ll get off the computer.

Hibernation Basket

Hibernation Basket
The Hibernation Basket: where naughty and/or disappointing WIPs go to await judgement. Shall we be brave and look at what is inside?
FLS in Hibernation Basket
Part of a February Lady Sweater. Lovely pattern. Lovely yarn color. The garter yoke fits. The yarn is NOT NICE. Not nice at all. It deplies itself, and it BREAKS. I’ve never had a knit stitch just break in the middle as I inserted the right needle into the loop. But this yarn did it at no apparent flaw. I had to tink back all the way to the broken stitch, and then back past it to create an end long enough to work in (>200 stitches all told). Not fun. The yarn (discontinued Bryspun Kin ‘n’ Ewe) is also scratchy, and I don’t think Cascade 220 or Wool of the Andes are the least bit scratchy. As far as this sweater in this yarn is concerned, the Hibernation Basket may be more of a hospice basket.
Lizard foot sock
A sock that makes my foot look like a lizard foot. My original plan was to do the cuff in this very narrow, long basketweave stitch pattern (Stanfield 10), and then do a standard slip stitch heel and a stockinette foot. I thought it would look veggie-like and organic. Somewhere along the line, I kept the heel flap in the pattern stitch and even did the pattern stitch on the gussets (do not try this; it is a mistake; it makes one’s foot look very fat). Very nasty all round. Going to the frog pond. I thought this Eat Your Veggies from Claudia’s Hand Painted would be brighter knit up.
Kiri with Yarn
Kiri! How sad! I’ve become allergic to the Suri alpaca! Baby alpaca and suri alpaca make my hands itch and my eyes water. I can’t stand to touch it. I so love the color of this yarn, a bright, true Christmas red, and I really liked how Kiri was turning out. But I can’t have it around at all. In fact, if any reader would like Kiri and it’s yarn, email me or leave a comment. It’s Frog Tree 100% brushed suri. I had 1000 meters (5 skeins), and Kiri so far is about one skein (7-9 repeats done–I really don’t want to handle it and count), so there are 800 meters untouched.
Dainty Bess WIP
Dainty Bess in Malabrigo laceweight! How did this end up at the bottom of the Hibernation Basket?! I like this project (even if it’s a little dull to knit) and I love the yarn and color. Out of the Hibernation Basket! Into a WIP basket! I hesitated in confronting my hibernating projects, but I’m glad I did, as I had completely forgotten about this little gem. I guess I should scroll down my projects page on Rav more often.

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.

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!