Friday, November 18, 2005

Status Update

I've got a lot of stuff in progress right now. My plan is to finish them in the order listed below, as this combines new projects with outstanding WIP in a way that I think I will be able to tolerate:

  • Vine Lace Socks

  • Argyle Socks

  • Fiesta Feet

  • Cabled and Bobbled Hat

  • Rosemarkie Vest

The Vine Lace Socks (out of Socks 3) are my newest sock project. I started knitting these last week, only to realize that they were going to be way too small around. 54 stitches around at 8 st/inch stockinette doth not a woman's medium make, unless your idea of medium is way smaller than mine. So I'm going to try the same pattern on 2s instead of 1s and see what happens. I hope I figure it out soon, as these are supposed to be a Christmas present for Mom.

Then I have to finish those darn argyles! The duplicate stitch is going to take forever. Maybe if I just do a few stitches a day, I can lick this thing. Next time, I'm just going to do intarsia for the lines, or not knit a black background! Meg said she wanted a pair of argyles after I finished these. Well, maybe after I have these done for awhile I will give them another go.

Lucy Neatby's Fiesta Feet is going to be fun. I have one of the garter cuff bands done for that, and I will work on the second once I finish the Vine Lace Socks. These should be a lot of fun, as I decided to use up a whole bunch of different variegated scrap yarns for the contrasting color. I like Lucy's approach, generally, as she seems to be fairly practical and willing to break the "rules" of sock knitting.

The Cabled and Bobbled Hat has been looming over my head ever since I started doing socks. It would be really swell if I got that completed. I think after this project I'll leave the cabling to Meg and stick with color as my medium of expression. Cables are just too fussy!

Then, of course, the vest. This will be a lot of fun, though it's certainly a long term project. I'm about halfway up the ribbing on the bottom. It's 2x2 ribbing, but since I've been doing the purl stitches with the opposing color, it's not nearly as stretchy as one might expect. I'm hoping that it will still be wide enough. In the worst case scenario, I just knit the button bands slightly wider when I'm done. 3500 stitches down, an innumerable number to go!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Drama of the Vest

On my way home from work yesterday, I stopped by the local yarn store to obtain a 32" size 0 circular needle. I had cast on and knit about 4 rounds of the vest (322 stitches per round) on a 40" needle, then I realized that the needle was simply too large, as I was spending more time futzing with the stitches than I did knitting. I'm happy to report that the 32" needle works great!

Unfortunately, I inadvertently knitted a moebius strip and only realized this after nearly completing 6 rounds! Then today, my computer software got corrupted, so I spent most of the day uninstalling and reinstalling this software... which, actually, worked out well, because I was able to knit during all of the waiting time. So now I'm actually ahead of where I was yesterday at this time, and that's that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Casting On with Two Balls

After knitting up the original swatch for the Alice Starmore's Rosemarkie vest, my wife and I both came to realize that the dark grey for the main color was way too dark. So we dropped back 10 yards and punted, and she found some very nice light-colored lavender yarn that's an alpaca and cotton blend. The new swatch looks great!

This is actually swatch #3. Swatch 1's colors were wrong, and swatch 2's gauge wasn't close enough. After a good washing and blocking, this comes out to just over 7 st/inch. It's supposed to be 7.75 st/inch, but if I knit the smallest size listed, it will work out to be the right size. So this is great news, as this means fewer stitches!

So I started to cast on 304 stitches tonight, and when I got to about stitch 200, I realized that I didn't have nearly enough tail! Big crapola there. Then I remembered reading online somewhere about using two balls of yarn to do a long tail cast on. After a few searches on Google, I remembered that it was The Knitting Geek who instructed me how to do it. After much fiddling with the yarn, I figured it out.

First, tie a loose overhand knot onto the needle for each yarn end and stick the two ends together on the needle, holding them together with your thumb and index finger (if that makes you feel more secure). Pick one of the yarns to be the "tail," then cast on as you would for a long-tail (or variant, like Twisted German). When you've cast on the required number of stitches, cut the "tail" yarn, leaving enough of an end to weave in, and unpick the overhand knots. You have a few more ends to weave in than you normally would, but it's a small price to pay, especially when you consider the hundreds of stitches you might otherwise have to undo (if you miscalculate the tail length).

My wife has dubbed this technique the Male Cast On. Why? Because you need two balls to do it.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

My Newest Endeavor

Balls of yarn for Rosemarkie
What you see is the basis for my swatch of Alice Starmore's Rosemarkie out of the Celtic Collection. This is a vest that I will be knitting for my wife. They are completely different colors than what Starmore calls for, but the Rowan yarns she used have long since been discontinued. Instead, we decided to go with a bunch of Debbie Bliss DK yarns we got at Fine Points in Cleveland. I hope that I can get gauge, as I have heard that getting gauge on her patterns is difficult to near impossible. US 3s don't seem to be cutting it, thus far, so I'll have to drop a size or two.

The start of my lace shawl
This is the blurb of shawl I have knitted so far using Misti lace weight baby alpaca. It looks, erm... funky. I've been told I have to have faith, for all will be well when I block it.

I have finished some of the UFOs that were hanging over my head, but I still have the cabled and bobbled hat that I've had on the needles since the beginning of time. I was going to pick it back up last night after I finished the Harvest Socks, but unfortunately I've lost the wonderful chart I constructed for it. I also can't seem to find the other needle. Sigh. I'm hoping it will turn up at some point. Maybe I wasn't meant to work on it just now.

There is also that toe-up sock that I have to finish. I think I will not do a gusset and will instead do a Sherman Heel at the recommendation of Sockbug. It would be nice to get that out of the way.

I don't know what kind of socks I will cast on next. I was thinking perhaps something lacy for my friend Michelle (who has small feet), or maybe socks for Mom as part of her Christmas gift. I'm more interested in the vest right now, but I really should put something on the needles, especially if I want it to be complete for Christmas.

Harvest Socks

Patterns: A combination of Lucy Neatby's Sideways Garter Stitch Cuff, Socks 3's After Bertha, and the Keyboard Biologist's Afterthought Heel
Needles: 2 24" US 1 Addi Turbos, 1 40" US 0 Addi Turbo
Yarn: Lana Grossa Meilenweit Fantasy, Color 4790
Special Technique: Afterthought Heel, Garter Stitch Cuff
Started: October 8, 2005
Completed: November 7, 2005
Recipient: Me

I was taken by these colors quite a bit, so I picked a pattern (actually 3) that would highlight the print. I like Lucy Neatby's idea of letting the color dictate the pattern.

This is my first attempt at an afterthought heel, and I have to admit that I am really impressed with the fit. Most socks I've knit have a tendency to slouch into the shoe, possibly because I don't make long enough heel flaps. I have managed to make things better in more recent socks, but the afterthought heel fits like a charm on the first try! I believe the reason is that the stitches on the back of the heel do not pull downwards like they do on a heel flap sock. Rather there is an even spread of tension emulating from the center of the heel, so the height of your heel bone to the floor doesn't really matter.

Plus, they look really nifty with self-striping yarn!

The way I see my socks.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

My Halloween Costume

In case you were wondering what I dressed up as on Halloween...

I was a giant squid, hooked by my lovely wife, who was one of those Japanese scientists that took a picture of me recently.