Friday, September 30, 2005

Fun and Fanciful Cone Hat

Pattern: 45 Fun and Fanciful Hats To Knit, Cone Hat #4
Needles: 1 16" Addi Turbo (US 8)
Yarn: KnitPicks Merino style DK: Nutmeg, Hollyberry, Moss and Cinnamon
Special Technique: Stranded Knitting
Started: September 23, 2005
Completed: September 30, 2005
Recipient: Friend

This is for my friend who needs a warm hat to protect his head for the impending Chicago winter. The color choices are my own and were made to accomodate my rather guyish tastes in color. I also left the ball off of the top. The wool is incredibly soft! I'm very pleased with the way it turned out; I may knit myself a hat out of the leftovers.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Rock On!

So my wife came to me the other day expressing frustration about grafting the hood of the Rogue Hooded Pullover together. It turns out that it is essentially a rib with the occasional cable. Having never tried to graft purl stitches together, I knitted up two swatches for grafting practice. I didn't really know how to do this, so I took a guess and reversed the mantra to PKKP. It worked beautifully.

So I started the graft on the Rogue, got part way through it, then realized that the cables needed to be crossed at the graft. This confused me a bit, so I did some online research. After a google search and tracking down a few blogs, I befriended PumpkinMama, and she helped me figure out what I needed to do. It turns out that I simply needed to pre-cross my stitches and graft them in the order they appeared.

So here is what it looks like:

Sorry for the blurry image. It was night and the camera didn't want to focus. Anyways, my wife is thrilled, and I'm pretty pleased that I figured this out. I am a bit disappointed with my purl grafts, though, as they are way too tight. This causes a slight "seam" of tight stitches across the hood. Grr. Grafting is supposed to be invisible. My wife says that doesn't matter, but I wonder if she's just being supportive. I could rip it out, but it's a super pain to rip out grafting. I guess I'll just have to more closely monitor my progress next time.

For my next trick, I will graft a fair isle design down the equator so that it perfectly spells "Happy Knitting."

Monday, September 26, 2005

It's a cone hat!

So the KnitPicks yarn arrived in the mail on Friday. I decided to knit a cone hat for my friend who could really use a warm winter hat. So this is out of 45 Fun and Fanciful Hats to Knit. I originally started out on a 24" needle and almost wrecked my wrists, so I acquired a 16" needle and all is well. Knitting in the round on 1 circ is really nice when doing fair isle, because you don't ever have to worry about shorting a float across needles and causing your garment to pucker.

Here is the yarn. Pretty, no?

Here's what I've done with the hat so far. I changed the colors from bright to "guy" so that he'd like the hat.

I'm having trouble figuring out exactly where these double decreases go. Anna Zilboorg conveniently leaves that information out. It's fairly obvious when in the middle of the round, but what do you do when you get to the next round? Do you decrease across the two, or do you just decrease the one?

In other news, my first large skein is done (the other one doesn't count). My wife says she will knit a scarfy-looking thing out of it.

Not bad, really. It's getting better, no?

The Quest for Matching Yarn

Well, I ran out of black-and-white yarn to finish the second argyle. It was a 50g skein of Lang Jawoll Color 820104, and it was not purchased recently. Therefore, I figured it would be impossible to find the same dye lot and maybe very difficult to find the color. I called around various yarn shops in the neighborhood to see if they sold it. No one did. I had my wife check Tangled Web, our local yarn shop here in Oak Park, and they didn't have it either. Rats. I checked online this morning, and the only place I could find that sold it charged more for the shipping than for the skein!

Rumor had it that the new yarn shop in the South Loop, Loopy Yarns, sold lots of Jawoll, so I high-tailed it down there on my lunch hour to see what they had. Randolph and Columbus (150 N / 300 E) proved to be quite a hike from 8th and State (750 S / 0 E-W), but it was well worth it! I got to meet Vicky, the owner, and it turns out she is also a sock knitter! While she didn't have 820104, she did have 830037, which is so close I can't tell the difference. I didn't have the old yarn with me, unfortunately, so I'm not sure it's an exact match, but I don't think it's going to matter, as it wasn't going to be a perfect match anyways because of the inevitably disparate dye lots. So, for less then $5, I am now the proud owner of more black-and-white Jawoll. She also had some beautiful sock yarns, including the widest selection of solid-colored sock yarn I have ever found in a yarn store. If you're a sock knitter and passing through Chicago, this store is a must visit!

Friday, September 23, 2005

A Funny Thing Happened

When work is slow and it's a Friday, I often go over to the Starbucks in the building next door for some coffee and a bit of knit time. Today, while knitting with my cup on the table, the very rapidly diminishing ball of yarn popped out of my pocket and onto the floor. I left it there because it was easier to unwind. When I got up to leave, I forgot it was on the floor, and I got about 30 feet out of the Starbucks before realizing I was leaving a yarn trail behind me. So I turned around and re-appeared into the Starbucks. It got a lot of laughs from people I've never met before.

Well that sucked

On Wednesday, I just completed turning the heel on the second argyle sock when I realized that I had an odd number of stitches on the heel needle. D'oh! This means I must've dropped a stitch or two somewhere while I wasn't looking. So I backed out the whole heel turn and a few rows of the heel, found the dropped stitches, and now I'm back on track.

With the Addis, I've noticed it's very easy to drop off a stitch without even noticing. They are very slick, which is usually nice, as it lets me go really fast. Occasionally, though, it causes problems. This is more likely to happen when I'm walking my sock. It happened again this morning, though I only lost one stitch and immediately realized it was gone, so the damage wasn't as great.

Since I'm past the "perilous" intarsia phase of the argyle, I can walk it again, so this means that the twisted rib socks have become a secondary project. The argyles will probably go back to secondary socks when I duplicate stitch the lines in, so there is a chance that both pairs on the needles will be done at the same time!

It's finally nice weather for wearing wool socks. This is a good thing, as I was beginning to think that autumn would never come! Also, I have a lot more handmade socks to wear this year than I did last year. I'm especially looking forward to a time when I can wear my entrelac socks out in public for all to see. Maybe I'll wear them at an upcoming band gig with my Birkenstocks.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

New pictures

The first argyle sock is done. Well, except for the duplicate stitching. I have to figure out how to do that...

The first twisted sock is done. I wasn't really expecting Lorna's Laces to stripe like this. I did get it to pool around the gusset, however. This ribbing wasn't really worth the fuss, though it's easier to see when it's on a foot.

My spindle and my first bit of spun roving. You wouldn't believe the number of times the single has broken and I've had to go back, untwist it, and pray that it would take new fibers being spun into it.

Long time, no post

My goodness! It has been over a week since I last posted. I haven't started anything new, but I have finished the first of the Twisted Rib socks and the first of the argyles. Photos will be coming soon. All of my knitting time is now spent on knitting the second sock for each pair, so that's not terribly exciting from a blog perspective.

Cat Bordhi's technique of knitting the heel stitches with a needle one size smaller worked really well for the argyles. I was extremely hesitant to go down to 56 stitches for the foot, as I was convinced this would be too small. I chose 64 stitches instead, and that was a good call, as the sock is just snug enough.

I've also been spinning a lot. For awhile, the twist was running up into the fiber mass and causing massive knots in the roving. With some practice, I've been able to the draft the fibers fast enough to prevent this from happening... at least most of the time. I still end up with little yarn blurbs at the end of each fiber section, but they are getting smaller.

Upcoming plans include a toque out of 45 Fun and Fanciful Hats To Knit made with some really nice-looking KnitPicks yarn. My wife is going to try her hand at natural dyeing, so she got some undyed wool to mess with as well. I may eventually make a vest out of some of it. There is a really neat-looking Alice Starmore vest I would like to try, as it involves fair isle, which is fun, and steeking, which I haven't tried but sounds nifty.

Who knows? Perhaps I will remain in finishing mode for awhile and finish up the Cabled / Bobbled Hat that's been on the needles since before I started knitting socks, or finish that blasted toe-up sock.

Monday, September 12, 2005

To the Blog Spammers Out There

Get a life, people. Do you honestly think I'm going to keep your comment up simply because you tell me my blog rocks and you compliment me in some vague way? If this keeps up, I'll have to turn word verification on. Sorry to the rest of the people who actually read my blog.

A New Hobby

So we took a trip up to the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival over the weekend. Lots of sheep, yarn, and rovings. I decided that this was a good time to try my hand at spinning. So I purchase a drop spindle and a bit of roving. Here is a couple of meters of what I spun:

Not bad for a first try. It's pretty nifty when you think about it. This gets me one step closer towards fulfilling my goal of having a hand in the entire process, from shearing to garment. I guess this means the next step would be carding, then washing raw fleece, then shearing, then... raising my own sheep? Hmm, I think this last one may be optional.

My wife purchased a natural dye starter kit as well, so we've got pretty much all of our bases covered to making custom yarn.

Oh yes, and here is a picture of that frog-colored Opal I was telling you about:

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Perils of Intarsia Knitting

Well, on my way walk to the train station yesterday, I was working on my second argyle sock when I tripped a passerby with a dangling yarn strand. He didn't fall or anything, just studder stepped. I apologized quickly and kept walking. I doubt he ever realized what the heck he tripped over.

I nearly tripped myself over a different strand about 5 minutes later. The problem, I think, is with intarsia. There's too many dang strands, and they are dangling all over the place! I've tried to tuck the overly long strands into my pocket, but sometimes they come out. The other problem is that I've left the two diamond colors attached to the balls, which produces two large loops hanging out of both of my pockets. Occasionally they get too large and someone will step in one of the loops. So I think I need to either cut the yarn from the balls or consider these socks too perilous to walk. I will probably end up walking the twisty sock instead.

I do enjoy walking my socks, especially now that my walk is considerably longer. The traffic lights are timed almost perfectly for my stride while knitting, so once I get in the "green light" groove, I can walk my knitting with very little stopping. And there is something kind of cool about working up a sweat while knitting.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Over the weekend, I was able to complete the first of the argyle socks. This doesn't include the little white lines that will be duplicate stitched, but I figure that shouldn't take too long.

I'm taking the Metra to work for this month and next instead of the L. It is slightly cheaper, the same amount of commuting time, but a longer walk. The Metra mainly services the suburbs, whereas the L services mainly the city. Oak Park is blessed with both Metra and L service, so we get a choice. Since it's so nice outside this month and next, I opted for the long walk. I feel even more productive with my knitting / walking combination, possibly because I am getting into a better groove with the longer walk. This morning, for instance, I casted on for the second argyle and completed 7 rounds of ribbing before I arrived at work.

The weekend brought both my wife and I to various excursions. The first was to Geneva for the Fox Falley Folk Festival. We stopped in a yarn shop where I proceeded to buy a 100g skein of Opal handpaint, what I would call frog-colored yarn (dark to iridescent green). Let's just hope that the frog color doesn't mean it will have to be frogged! My wife said she will knit me a pair out of the skein. Whoopee!

We attempted to stop in at the yarn shop in Long Grove on Labor Day, but even yarn store owners need a vacation once in awhile, so there was no luck to be had for us. It's too bad, really, because there was a bit Irish festival that day, and they probably could have done a lot of business. It was a fun festival, nevertheless. We got paid in merchandise instead of cash, which is a real hoot! We ended up taking 11 new CDs home with us.

The entrelac pattern is completed and mailed off, for those who are curious. If you want it and don't have it already, leave me your e-mail address and I'll send it along.